Background: Cancer survival in persons with AIDS (PWA) after introduction of antiretroviral therapies remains poorly characterized. The aim is to provide population-based estimates of cancer survival, overall and for the most important cancer types in PWA, and a comparison with persons without AIDS (non-PWA) affected by the same cancer.
Methods: PWA with cancer at AIDS diagnosis or thereafter were individually matched with non-PWA by type of cancer, sex, age, year of diagnosis, area of living, and, for lymphomas, histological subtype. Five-year observed survival and hazard ratios (HRs) of death in PWA versus non-PWA with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated.
Results: We included 2262 Italian PWA and 4602 non-PWA with cancer diagnosed during 1986–2005. Between 1986 and 1995, and 1996 and 2005, 5-year survival for all cancers in PWA improved from 12% to 41% and the corresponding HR versus non-PWA decreased from 5.1 (95% CI: 4.3 to 6.1) to 2.9 (95% CI: 2.6 to 3.3). During 1996–2005, HRs were 2.0 (95% CI: 1.4 to 2.9) for Kaposi sarcoma, 3.4 (95% CI: 2.9 to 4.1) for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and 2.4 (95% CI: 1.4 to 4.0) for cervical cancer. HRs were 2.5 (95% CI: 2.1 to 3.1) for all non–AIDS-defining cancers, 5.9 (95% CI: 3.1 to 11.2) for Hodgkin lymphoma, and 7.3 (95% CI: 2.8 to 19.2) for nonmelanoma skin cancer. A ≤3-fold survival difference was found for cancers of the stomach, liver, anus, lung, brain, and the most aggressive lymphoma subtypes.
Conclusions: The persisting, although narrowing, gap in cancer survival between PWA and non-PWA indicates the necessity of enhancing therapeutic approaches, so that PWA can be provided the same chances of survival observed in the general population, and improving cancer prevention and screening.