Most HIV-positive patients die of cancer. In the latest issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2011; 108: 117), Manfred Hensel’s research group presents epidemiological data.
The authors surveyed all German hospital outpatient clinics and ambulatory care centers specializing in the treatment of HIV patients in the period from 2000 to 2007 and were thus able to analyze the largest collection of data on the incidence of cancer in HIV patients ever assembled in Germany. It first became clear in the early 1980s that HIV infection is associated with malignancies. Kaposi sarcoma, cervical cancer, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma were found particularly often in immune-deficient populations. These “Aids-defining” tumors have since become less frequent, but other types of cancer such as anal carcinoma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lung cancer, and skin cancer are coming to the fore. Because most patients infected with HIV die of these malignancies, the authors recommend tumor screening for HIV-positive persons.