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Cancer refers to the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of certain cells that can interfere with normal body functions. Cancer can spread (metastasize) from where it starts growing to other organs and parts of the body. Cancer can destroy healthy cells and cause illness and death.
A healthy immune system helps to limit the occurrence of cancer. Because those living with HIV (HIV+) have weakened immune systems, HIV+ people are more vulnerable to several kinds of cancer. HIV+ people are more likely to be infected with viruses that can lead to cancer. These viruses include:
The following types of cancer lead to an AIDS diagnosis: Kaposi's sarcoma, certain types of lymphoma, and cervical cancer. Other non-AIDS defining cancers for which HIV+ people are at increased risk include anal, liver, and lung cancer. All of these are explained in detail below.
KS was one of the most common opportunistic infections (OIs) in the early days of the AIDS epidemic.
HHV-8 is the virus that causes KS. It is transmitted through sexual contact or blood products. KS has always been less common in women, but is less common in all people with HIV since the use of potent HIV drug combinations.
KS on the skin is not life threatening. However, if KS spreads to other parts of the body, especially the lungs, it can cause serious problems. An oncologist (a doctor who specializes in cancer) usually suggests treatment options based on factors such as the size, number, and location of KS tumors. Your HIV provider and other specialists (e.g., radiation oncologist, dermatologist) may be involved as well.
Symptoms (by Location)
Skin (most common site of KS):
Oral cavity (inside the mouth):
Gastrointestinal tract tumors:
This article was provided by The Well Project. Visit The Well Project's Web site to learn more about their resources and initiatives for women living with HIV. The Well Project shares its content with TheBody.com to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from TheBody.com or the advertisers on this site. No advertiser on this site has any editorial input into The Well Project's content.
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