Objective: Lung cancer is more common in HIV-infected patients than in the general population. We examined how effectively lung cancer was being diagnosed in our HIV-infected patients.
Methods: Retrospective study assessing clinical diagnosis of lung cancer in HIV-infected patients at Johns Hopkins Hospital between 1986 and 2004.
Results: Ninety-two patients were identified. Compared to HIV-indeterminate patients (n = 4973), HIV-infected individuals were younger with more advanced cancer. CD4 counts and HIV-1 RNA levels indicated preserved immune function. Mortality was higher in HIV-infected patients, with 92% dying of lung cancer (hazard ratio, 1.57; 95% confidence interval, 1.25-1.96), compared to HIV-uninfected patients. Advanced stage and black race were associated with worse survival. After adjustment for these factors, HIV infection was not associated with increased mortality (hazard ratio, 1.04; 95% confidence interval, 0.83-1.32). Of 32 patients followed in our HIV clinic, 60% of chest radiographs had no evidence of neoplasm within 1 year of diagnosis compared to only 1 (4%) of 28 chest computed tomography scans. Nonspecific infiltrates were observed in 9 patients in the same area that cancer was subsequently diagnosed.
Conclusions: HIV-infected lung cancer patients have shortened survival mainly due to advanced stage. Low clinical suspicion and overreliance on chest radiographs hindered earlier detection. Aggressive follow-up of nonspecific pulmonary infiltrates in these patients is warranted.