More Stomach, Esophageal Cancers Seen in AIDS Patients Than Others

SATURDAY Oct. 6, 2012 -- AIDS patients are at higher risk for esophageal and stomach cancers, as well as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed U.S. data collected from 1980 to 2007 to compare the risks of esophageal and stomach cancer in nearly 600,000 people with AIDS and among people in the general population.

People with AIDS had a 69 percent greater risk of esophageal cancer and 44 percent greater risk of stomach cancer. They also had a greater risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (tumors of the immune cells) in the stomach and esophagus.

The researchers also found that people with AIDS had a 53 percent increased risk of cancer in the lower stomach. Helicobacter pylori infection is one of the causes of this type of stomach cancer, the researchers said, so increased prevalence of H. pylori in people with AIDS may be one explanation for their increased risk.

The study was published in the October print issue of the journal Gastroenterology.

"People diagnosed with AIDS are living longer due to improved therapies. However, they remain at increased risk of developing a number of different cancers," lead study author E. Christina Persson, of the U.S. National Cancer Institute, said in a journal news release. "An elevated risk of esophageal and stomach cancers had been observed before, but we were able to look at risk for subtypes of these malignancies."

More frequent use of tobacco and alcohol may be another explanation for the elevated cancer risk among people with AIDS, the researchers said.

Programs that help AIDS patients quit smoking and drink in moderation may help reduce their risk of esophageal and stomach cancer, the authors concluded.

Although the study found an association between AIDS and higher risk for some cancers, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about stomach cancer.

Posted: October 2012


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