Immunodeficiency increases the risk of a handful of cancers in people with HIV, and thus, earlier diagnosis of the virus and earlier initiation of treatment with antiretrovirals could delay the onset of some cancers, say researchers who published their findings in The Lancet Oncology.
A team of researchers examined the incidence of three AIDS-defining cancers (Kaposi's sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and cervical cancer) and four non-AIDS-defining cancers (Hodgkin's lymphoma, lung cancer, liver cancer, and anal cancer) in HIVers from 1998 to 2006. They also investigated the relationship between immunodeficiency, viral load, antiretroviral treatment, and the onset of these cancers.
Overall, immunodeficiency increased the risk of all the cancers. CD4 count was the most predictive risk factor for all cancers except anal cancer. The level of risk associated with viral load was shown to be consistently lower than that associated with immunodeficiency.
Findings showed that CD4 count was the only risk factor for Hodgkin's lymphoma, lung cancer, and liver cancer. But lower CD4 count, higher HIV viral load, and a lack of combinational antiretroviral therapy increased the risk of Kaposi's sarcoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Our results suggest that combinational antiretroviral therapy would be most beneficial if it restores or maintains the CD4 count above 500, thereby indicating an earlier diagnosis of HIV infection and earlier treatment initiation," say the authors.