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Logo of bmjThis ArticleThe BMJ
BMJ. 2007 July 14; 335(7610): 69.
PMCID: PMC1914498
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Immune deficiency linked to a wide range of cancers

Patients with HIV have an increased risk of many cancers, not just the familiar AIDS defining cancers such as Kaposi's sarcoma, a meta-analysis has found. The pattern of cancers that emerged looked similar to that found in patients with organ transplants, suggesting that immune deficiency is the common cause in both populationspopulations.

figure scut1407.f3

A close look at data from more than 400 000 people with AIDS and more than 30 000 people with transplants showed that both groups were significantly more likely than the general population to develop 20 of the 28 types of cancer examined. The risks were most obvious for cancers with a definite or probable infectious cause, including Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas (Epstein Barr virus), liver cancer (hepatitis viruses), stomach cancer (Helicobacter pylori), and anogenital cancers associated with human papilloma viruses. Most of the common epithelial cancers such as those of the breast, prostate, and colon were not associated with HIV or organ transplantation. But the researchers noted a significant excess of lung cancers in both groups, which they found hard to explain.

People with HIV are living longer than ever thanks to highly active antiretroviral therapy, say the researchers. Cancer could become an increasingly important cause of morbidity for these patients.


  • Lancet 2007;370:59-67 [PubMed]

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