The incidence of cancer among people infected with HIV has increased due to the introduction of the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Now, cancer hails to be the second most killer after AIDS among these groups.
Many studies have highlighted that there was a lack of treatment in HIV-positive people with cancer in the Unite States. The exact reason for the lack of treatment remains unknown.
‘HIV-infected patients with cancer in the United States are less likely to receive cancer treatment, regardless of insurance and other existing health conditions.’
A new study published in the Journal Cancer
was led by Gita Suneja, from the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Utah. They examined National Cancer Data Base data from 2003 to 2011 to find out the associations between HIV status and lack of cancer treatment, taking into account insurance status and comorbidities.
They found that HIV-infected patients with cancer were less likely to get cancer-directed treatment than HIV-non-infected patients. Even people who had medical insurance such as Medicaid and Medicare and also private insurance lacked treatment.
HIV-positive patients did not get treatment for cancers of the head and neck, upper gastrointestinal tract, colorectum, lung, breast, cervix, prostate, Hodgkin lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.
The authors said that cancer treatment guidelines unique to HIV-infected patients were not available for most cancer types. Also, clinicians may lack experience treating HIV-infected patients with cancer. They stressed that simultaneously treating two deadly conditions may be a challenge for healthcare providers.
"Cancer care providers and policy makers need to devote special attention to the HIV-infected patient population to understand and address the factors driving differential cancer treatment," wrote the authors.
"Cancer treatment not only extends survival from cancer, but also can improve quality of life, even for patients with advanced stage disease. The observed disparity is of particular importance given the extended survival of HIV-infected patients treated with antiretroviral therapy and the rising number of cancer cases."