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Kidney cancer?
Mar 2, 2001

The CT scan of a friend with AIDS shows "something in one of the kidneys". They say perhaps an abscess, perhaps a malignancy; a needle biopsy "found no malignancy but was unable to rule out cancer". Signs of infection exist and luckily antibiotics are mitigating them. My question is: roughly how often do AIDS patients develop kidney abscesses vs. kidney cancer? Or, is there a linkage? We are happy that no cancer was found, yet would like to have some sense of the relative likelihoods of the problems. Thank you very much.

Response from Dr. Dezube

The best strategy would be to have the infection completely treated and then to have the kidney rescanned. If there was just an infection, then the scan should show nothing. Alternatively if "something is in one of the kidneys" then your friend may need to have the "something" removed. Although I have seen several HIVers with kidney cancer, I'm not convinced that it is more common in HIV positive patients compared to HIV negative patients. Also HIV positive patients can develop cancers such as lymphomas which can involve the kidneys. Although it does indeed sound like your friend may indeed just have an abscess, make sure it is followed up with repeat scans. If there's anything abnormal, remember the cancer doctor's slogan "When in doubt, take it out". GOOD LUCK.

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