March 10, 2010
A new study finds HIV-positive women and those at risk of acquiring the virus are more likely to develop lung cancer compared to women in the general population.
While people with HIV have a much higher risk for many cancers, it is not clear whether the virus plays a role in the development of lung cancer, explained Dr. Alexandra M. Levine, of the Duarte, Calif.-based City of Hope National Medical Center, and colleagues. They compared lung cancer cases in 2,651 HIV-infected and 898 at-risk but uninfected women, with an average age of 35, with those estimated to occur among similarly aged women in the general population.
Compared with population-based expectations, the researchers found a "substantially increased risk of lung cancer among both HIV-infected and at-risk uninfected women." Population estimates suggested they would find four to five lung cancer cases; instead, 14 cases were seen over a five-year period: 12 among HIV-positive women and two among women at risk for HIV.
Approximately two-thirds of women in the HIV group were smokers. All the women who developed lung cancer were smokers; over their lifetimes, they smoked double the number of cigarettes as their peers without lung cancer. No lung cancer cases were found among the women who were lifetime non-smokers.
Further analysis found that only smoking history and duration "were significantly associated with lung cancer" among women with HIV or at risk for infection, said the researchers. "As such, the development and implementation of smoking cessation programs aimed at HIV-infected persons will be of increasing importance."
The study, "HIV as a Risk Factor for Lung Cancer in Women: Data from the Women's Interagency HIV Study," was published online ahead of print in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (2010; doi:10.1200/JCO.2009.25.6149).