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Breast fibrosis in HIV positive woman-please help
Aug 31, 2004

I just had a mamography done, and it turned out that I have more fibrosis than usual. The doctor said that for 39 years old I should have more fat, and that added risk in developing breast cancer. I wonder if it could have anything to do with the fact I take protease inhibitors and my breast has increased. If that is not the case, does that mean that I neccesarily develop cancer?. I have hepatitis c, hiv and really, it would just be too much! Please inform me. Thank you

Response from Dr. Lee

It sounds like a misunderstanding about fibrosis and it's relationship to the development of breast cancer. There is no added risk of developing breast cancer due to fibrosis at age 39. There may be a need for closer follow-up and testing such as mammograms and biopsies due to the possible confusion of fibrotic areas with cancer. (Breast self-exams are more difficult and less reliable when fibrosis is present.)

Protease inhibitors are associated with fat redistribution and with an increase in fat in the breast area. Fibrosis is more common in younger women than older women, due to an accumulation of fat over time.

There have been studies indicating an increase risk of several forms of cancer related to the immune deficiency which is caused by HIV. The list of cancers which are possibly associated with HIV's effects on the immune system include cervical cancer, lung cancer, lymphoma, kaposi's sarcoma, etc. Breast cancer has been evaluated, but an association has not been shown.

It is important to have regular check-ups, including regular mammograms, etc.

Be well.



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