Radiation Therapy works well for HIV-Positive Head and Neck Cancer Patients

head and neck cancer

Treatment for cancer patients who are also HIV Positive is now possible via radiation therapy.
 
People tested positive of the human immunodeficiency virus are at a greater risk of suffering various types of cancer for unestablished reasons. One of the key challenges that the medical experts face during the treatment of the HIV-positive cancer patients is that the anti-HIV medicines are infamous for triggering interactions between different drugs. These anti-HIV medicines react with the drugs used during chemotherapy to treat cancer and may cause dangerous side effects in patients

Radiation therapy has been employed as the standard treatment procedure for head and neck cancer. However, very little research and studies have been carried out to find out the effects of radiation therapy on HIV-positive patients.A recent paper published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology revealed that the radiation therapy used for the treatment for cancer works well for cancer patients who are also HIV-positive. The study was carried out by the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), the largest radiation oncology society in the world.

The study aimed to find out the feasibility of employing radiation therapy and determine the probability of it being useful in the treatment of HIV-positive patients with head and neck cancer. The responsiveness of HIV-positive patients to the therapy was found to be good and their toxicity rates matched with those of the non-HIV-positive patients, notwithstanding earlier reports that stated the contrary to be true.

That, HIV-positive patients are at a substantially increased risk of acquiring some types of cancers is known to medical science since long. Nevertheless, in the mid1990s a novel therapy called highly active antiretroviral therapy was devised and the reported cases of HIV-related cancers have been decreasing tremendously ever since. In turn this has lead to an increased risk of the HIV-positive patients developing various types of non-HIV-related cancers. In the earlier days, radiation therapy was not the conventionally used treatment procedure for cancer patient. Owing to the aggressive nature of the therapy, and other pertinent concerns related to the complications involved in the therapy, it was sporadically employed for the treating cancer.
 
Of the study population, 75 percent of patients were being treated with the highly active antiretroviral therapy. The study points out that over a period of three years, the overall survival rate of the HIV-positive cancer patients was found to be 78 percent. Also, it reported that the toxicity rate in these patients was found to be 58 percent which was not worse than the toxicity rate generally observed in their non-HIV-positive counterparts. The researchers noted that the reason for similarity in the toxicity levels of the HIV-positive and the non-HIV-positive patients could be attributed to the dental prophylaxis and gastrostomy tube placement (generally recommended to reduce complications in the treatment) that those patients underwent before commencing the therapy.

Such studies are significant to ensure high quality treatment with best results for the HIV-positive cancer patients.  This may in turn increase the overall survival rates and life expectancy of these HIV-positive patients.

Reference:
A Study published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics, an official journal of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).
ended to reduce complications in the treatment) that those patients underwent before commencing the therapy.
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-01/asfr-hha011911.php

Author: Ann M
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Disclaimer: This article is written by a non-medical professional.

Date: 
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
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