We’ve made great progress treating people who are infected with HIV, but if they get cancer they’re less likely to get the care they need, a recent study found.
Researchers examined treatment for a variety of cancers, including upper gastrointestinal tract, colorectal, prostate, lung, head and neck, cervix, breast, anal and two blood cancers. With the exception of anal cancer, treatment rates differed significantly between HIV-infected people and those who weren’t infected, according to the study published online Tuesday by the journal Cancer.
For example, a third of patients with HIV and lung cancer failed to receive any treatment for the cancer, compared with 14 percent of those who were HIV-negative. Similarly, 44 percent of people who were HIV-positive didn’t receive treatment for upper GI cancer versus 18 percent of those who weren’t infected with HIV. Twenty-four percent of men with prostate cancer who were HIV-positive didn’t get treatment, compared with 7 percent of men uninfected with HIV.
Cancer treatment was defined as radiation, chemotherapy and/or surgery.
“To have made such great strides with treating HIV only to have them succumb to cancer is devastating,” said Dr. Gita Suneja, a radiation oncologist at the University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City and the lead author of the study.