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Exploring Why People with HIV Have a Higher Risk of Lung Cancer

By December 12, 2018No Comments

Although antiviral drugs can spare most HIV-positive Americans from the specter of AIDS, a generation of survivors finds itself at a heightened risk of cancer.

Lung cancer is emerging as a leading cause of cancer death for people with HIV, particularly among those who smoke.

Studies show that one in five HIV-positive people who smoke will develop cancer in their lifetime. People with HIV are at higher risk of developing lung cancer, and those diagnosed with lung cancer tend to be significantly younger than HIV-negative cancer patients.

On Dec. 1, the 30th annual World AIDS Day, researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle announced the start of a new study with a goal to understand why those who are HIV-positive are at higher risk of lung cancer and develop lung cancer at a younger age.

Called the SAGE study (for Smoking and AGE), it plans to enroll 120 men and women at risk for lung cancer due to a history of smoking — 60 who are HIV-positive and 60 HIV-negative — in the Seattle area over the next year. Blood samples taken at the Fred Hutch Prevention Center from volunteers will be evaluated for immune function and screened for mutations in 75 genes that have been associated with lung cancer.