Patients with AIDS or HIV infection are more susceptible to specific cancer types than those without HIV infection and they often have a recurrence of particular cancer types referred to as AIDS-associated cancer. AIDS-associated cancer includes non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), Kaposi sarcoma (KS) and invasive cervical cancer (ICC). Other types of cancer with HIV infection include Hodgkin lymphoma, anal cancer, testicular cancer, liver cancer, lung cancer, head and neck, skin cancer and squamous cell cancer. Additionally, Kaposi sarcoma (KS) is a blood vessel cancer associated with human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8). It spreads through saliva and sexual intercourse and does not cause cancer among individuals with a healthy and robust immune system.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) is another type of AIDS-associated cancer that indicates advanced stage 3 HIV. It has also been prevalent among patients with advanced stages of HIV. Cervical cancer is closely related to sexually transmitted diseases caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Women with a stable and healthy immune system are less likely to develop cervical cancer moreover, HIV-positive women are more likely to develop cervical intraepithelial tumor neoplasia (CIN), leading to the growth of precancerous cervical cancer cells.
What is HIV/AIDS-Related Cancer?
Patients with AIDS or HIV infection are more susceptible to certain cancer types than those without HIV infection. Patients with AIDS or HIV infection often have a recurrence of specific cancer types referred to as AIDS-associated cancer1. HIV infection can influence the incidence of cancer synergistically. Additionally, HIV-associated cancer broadly incorporates both AIDS-associated and non-AIDS-associated cancer. AIDS-associated cancer such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), Kaposi sarcoma (KS), and invasive cervical cancer (ICC) supposedly have an increased incidence among patients with HIV infection2. Apart from AIDS-associated cancers, other types of cancer often develop among patients with HIV infection, including Hodgkin lymphoma, anal cancer, testicular cancer, liver cancer, lung cancer, head and neck, skin cancer, and squamous cell cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), HIV infected patients has an estimated 500 fold increased risk for developing Kaposi sarcoma (KS). KS is a type of blood vessel cancer associated with human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8). The HHV-8 virus predominantly spreads through saliva and sexual intercourse. It does not cause cancer among individuals with a healthy and robust immune system. The early symptoms of KS can be inconsistent. It often differs among patients. Many patients did develop lesions in the mouth or dark skin including other symptoms such as fever and weight loss. KS can affect the digestive tract, lymph nodes, and other major organs, which can be fatal to the patient. However, with appropriate treatment, KS can be curable.
The onset of KS has been often indicative of the advanced HIV stage (stage 3) among patients. Moreover, the incidence of KS reduces among patients subjected to antiretroviral therapy (ART). It is also possible to increase the average life expectancy of HIV associated cancer patients over time with proper medication and treatment. The symptoms of KS usually diminish as the patient’s immune system gets stronger3.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) is also another type of AIDS associated cancer that is also indicative of advanced stage 3 HIV. It has seen to be very common among patients with advanced stages of HIV. Besides it, ART can also be an effective method to help decrease the risk for NHL. According to reports by the NCI, HIV infected patients has a 12 fold increased risk for developing NHL.
NHL is of various subtypes. The onset generally develops in lymphoid tissue and spreads through other parts of the body. According to studies, almost eight per cent of HIV infected patients have lymphoma in the central nervous system originating either in the brain or spinal cord. The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is one of the major risk factors among HIV infected patients for many NHL subtypes3.
Invasive cervical cancer
According to reports by the NCI, women infected with HIV are at a threefold more risk for developing cervical cancer in comparison to healthy women. Cervical cancer is closely related to sexually transmitted diseases caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Women with a stable and healthy immune system are less likely to develop cervical cancer. The onset of cervical cancer among HIV infected women is also associated with the cancer stage as well as the CD4 cells count and the type of cancer treatment.
HIV-positive women are more likely to develop cervical intraepithelial tumors neoplasia (CIN) which leads to the growth of precancerous cervical cancer cells. Many times CIN can progress to cervical cancer without the presence of any particular symptom. Treatment for CIN among HIV infected women can often be difficult. But proper health care advice and medical treatment can provide the most effective treatment. Studies show that abnormalities in Pap tests to be quite common among patients with HIV and cancer at the same time. Regular cervical cancer screenings can lead to an early diagnosis of cervical cancer, thus providing a better treatment regime for the patients3.
- 1.How Are HIV and AIDS Related to Cancer? HIV INFECTION, AIDS, AND CANCER. Published 2014. Accessed March 2022. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/infectious-agents/hiv-infection-aids/hiv-aids-and-cancer.html
- 2.Borges ÁH, Dubrow R, Silverberg MJ. Factors contributing to risk for cancer among HIV-infected individuals, and evidence that earlier combination antiretroviral therapy will alter this risk. Current Opinion in HIV and AIDS. Published online January 2014:34-40. doi:10.1097/coh.0000000000000025
- 3.HIV and Cancer: Risks, Types, and Treatment Options. healthline. Published 2018. Accessed March 2022. https://www.healthline.com/health/hiv-aids/hiv-and-cancer