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Breast Lump; what will cancer treatment do to my immune system?
Feb 10, 2002

I am a 29 yo HIV-positive female and at my annual physical my MD discovered a lump in my breast. It measureed 4cm x 2cm. Since breast cancer runs in my family, can you tell me, what would happen to my immune system in the worst case senario that I have cancer? Right now I do not take any meds (CD4-1297, VRL-72), but I am concerned about what cancer drugs (radiation/chemotherapy) would do to my immune system. Can you give me any advice on this situation?

Response from Dr. Dezube

The first step, of course, is to have your lump biopsied. Not all lumps are cancerous. If indeed you do have breast cancer, then your treatment would be the exact same as the treatment of a woman who is HIV-negative. In general breast cancer patients with HIV do quite well. The chemotherapy and radiation typically do not affect the viral load. These treatments, however, can cause the CD4 count to go down. Your CD4 count of 1297 is quite robust and should be able to handle the chemotherapy which we give women with breast cancer. Once the course of chemotherapy is completed, the CD4 count should rise, though perhaps not to the pre-treatment level. Good luck. Bruce Dezube (AIDS Cancer Forum)


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