Treating head and neck cancer in HIV-positive patients is a challenge for oncologists. Because of the advancements in treating HIV, these patients are living much longer and therefore have a much higher chance of developing an HIV-related cancer. However, despite using treatments that are successful in HIV-negative cancer patients, HIV-positive patients experience much worse outcomes.
In the largest single institution study of its kind, researchers retrospectively studied 71 HIV-positive head and neck cancer patients treated between 1997 and 2010. Patients were followed for approximately 47 months and the rates of recurrence and overall survival were very high at 69 percent and 55 percent, respectively. Ten percent of patients also developed a second primary malignancy within five years after receiving radiation therapy.
The study authors concluded that neither radiation nor radiation plus chemotherapy, both standard treatments for head and neck cancer, were as effective for HIV-positive patients when compared to HIV-negative patients and that more research was needed to develop treatments that can reduce the risk of recurrence and increase survival rates.
“Treating HIV-positive patients with head and neck cancers is extremely difficult, but becoming much more commonplace due to the advances in therapies that prolong the life of these patients,” Waleed Mourad, MD, MSc, PhD, lead author of the study and a radiation oncologist at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, said. “It is extremely important that we establish multimodality approaches and regimens that are better tailored to improve outcomes in HIV-positive head and neck cancer patients and minimize treated related co-morbidities.”
The abstract, “Outcome of HIV head and neck squamous cell carcinoma treated with RT and chemotherapy,” will be presented as a poster viewing. To speak with one of the study authors, contact Beth Bukata or Nicole Napoli on January 26-27, 2012, in the press room at the Arizona Biltmore at 602-912-7854 or 703-839-7336.
About the American Head and Neck Society
The American Head and Neck Society (AHNS) is the single largest organization in North America for the advancement of research and education in head and neck oncology. The purpose of the AHNS is to promote and advance the knowledge of prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of neoplasms and other diseases of the head and neck; to promote and advance research in diseases of the head and neck; and to promote and advance the highest professional and ethical standards.
About the American Society of Clinical Oncology
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is the world’s leading professional organization representing physicians who care for people with cancer. With more than 30,000 members, ASCO is committed to improving cancer care through scientific meetings, educational programs and peer-reviewed journals. ASCO is supported by its affiliate organization, the Conquer Cancer Foundation, which funds ground-breaking research and programs that make a tangible difference in the lives of people with cancer. For ASCO information and resources, visit www.asco.org. Patient-oriented cancer information is available at www.cancer.net.
About the American Society for Radiation Oncology
The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) is the largest radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 10,000 members who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. As the leading organization in radiation oncology, biology and physics, the Society is dedicated to improving patient care through education, clinical practice, advancement of science and advocacy. For more information on radiation therapy, visit www.rtanswers.org. To learn more about ASTRO, visit www.astro.org.
About SNM—Advancing Molecular Imaging and Therapy
SNM is an international scientific and medical organization dedicated to raising public awareness about what molecular imaging is and how it can help provide patients with the best health care possible. SNM members specialize in molecular imaging, a vital element of today’s medical practice that adds an additional dimension to diagnosis, changing the way common and devastating diseases are understood and treated.