Updated 29 July 2013

Antiretrovirals don't improve lymphoma survival

Survival rates for patients with HIV-associated lymphoma have not improved since antiretroviral therapy (ART) became available, according to a new study.

Survival rates for patients with HIV-associated lymphoma have not improved since antiretroviral therapy (ART) became available, according to a new study.

HIV, the AIDS-causing virus, raises the risk of lymphoma, a blood cancer, which is the most common cancer-related cause of death among people with HIV.

"These results highlight an ongoing need to... optimise treatments for this challenging population to reduce deaths from one of the leading causes of mortality in the [antiretroviral therapy] era," said Dr Satish Gopal, of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina.

For the study, published July 26 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers examined data from nearly 500 patients diagnosed with HIV-associated lymphoma between 1996 and 2010.

Patients diagnosed more recently were older and more likely to be male, gay, Hispanic, and to have had prior HIV-related illnesses. They also were more likely to be on antiretroviral therapy when diagnosed with lymphoma, with higher CD4 counts and better HIV control.

But these recently diagnosed patients did not have a lower risk of death five years after diagnosis than those diagnosed earlier in the study period.

Twice the risk

Moreover, lymphomas diagnosed in patients on antiretroviral therapy were associated with twice the risk of death, the researchers found. This may suggest important biologic differences between lymphomas in patients on and off antiretroviral therapy, and further investigation is required, Gopal and colleagues said in a journal news release.

The types of lymphoma patients had included Hodgkin lymphoma, Burkitt lymphoma, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, other non-Hodgkin lymphoma and primary central nervous system lymphoma. The proportion diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma grew during the study period compared to other forms of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the researchers found.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about HIV-related lymphoma.


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