Volume 14 - Number 1

January - March 2011

Review of Screening Guidelines for Non-AIDS-Defining Malignancies: Evolving Issues in the Era of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy

Zachary Tyerman and David M. Aboulafia   |Full Article in PDF|

Division of Hematology and Oncology, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA, USA


HIV-associated morbidity and mortality have declined dramatically in the era of HAART. Through direct and indirect benefits of HAART, people with HIV/AIDS are living longer, developing less AIDS-defining cancers and more cancers commonly seen in the seronegative population. Herein, we review cancer screening strategies for people living with HIV and compare and contrast them with those of the general population. The most noticeable differences occur in anal and cervical cancer screening. Although anal cancer is uncommon in the general population, it is more prevalent in men who have sex with men and people at high risk for human papillomavirus infection, especially those infected with HIV. To address this, we recommend that a digital rectal exam and a visual inspection be performed annually. In addition, an anal Pap test should be performed soon after the diagnosis of HIV infection, with follow-up testing every six months until two normal tests. Abnormal cytological results are then investigated with high-resolution anoscopy and biopsy of suspicious lesions. In screening for cervical cancer, a Pap test should be performed during the anogenital exam after initial HIV diagnosis, with a second Pap six months later, then annually if the results are normal. A colposcopy should follow an abnormal result. Human papillomavirus testing as a screening method for cervical cancer in women with HIV can also be efficacious. In lung cancer screening, preliminary data suggest that low-dose computerized tomography may play an important role, but further research is needed. Screening for breast and colon cancer should follow guidelines for the general population. Early screening for prostate cancer based on a diagnosis of HIV lacks clear benefit.

Key Words:

HIV/AIDS. Non AIDS-defining malignancies. Cancer screening. Highly active antiretroviral therapy era. HAART.

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