One Type of Cancer On The Rise in HIV+ Women

Anal cancer increasing among women with HIV

(RxWiki News) The human papillomavirus – HPV – doesn’t just cause cervical cancer. It is linked to several others including anal cancer. Diagnosed in about 6,200 Americans each year, anal cancer is more common in women than in men. And some women are particularly at risk.

Pre-cancerous anal lesions are being seen more frequently in HIV-positive women, according to a recent study. The good news is these lesions can easily be removed before cancer starts.

"Discuss appropriate cancer screening programs with your doctor."

This study was conducted by researchers at Montefiore Medical Center from March 2008 to December 2010.

“Anal cancer was widely associated with HIV-infected men who have sex with men,” said Mark H. Einstein, MD, MS, Director of Clinical Research, Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Montefiore Medical Center in a press release. “But now, this study reveals anal precancerous disease in a high proportion of women with HIV.”

A total of 715 women with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) were studied. Researchers found that 10.5 percent of them had some type of anal disease. Of this group, about a third had disease that can lead to cancer if left untreated.

The scientists believe this trend has to do with the fact that HIV encourages HPV to remain in the body. And HPV is the known cause of anal cancer.

Women in the study all came from the Bronx, which has among the highest number of HIV cases in the U.S. It’s estimated that 1.8 percent of people living in the Bronx has HIV.

Dr. Einstein and his team recommend further testing of all HIV+ women who have any abnormal anal cells.

They also think that all HIV-positive men and women should undergo regular anal cancer screening. It mayalso be helpful for HPV testing to be included in this screening.

Anal cancer in HIV-positive women has been on the rise, despite the success of antiretroviral therapy

This study is to be published in the Journal of AIDS.

Review Date: 
October 5, 2012