HIV-positive liver cancer patients less likely to receive transplants

(RxWiki News) Liver cancer patients who are HIV-positive and waiting for a liver transplant are less likely to receive the surgery, according to new research from France.

The researchers also found that overall survival rates and cancer recurrence risks in HIV patients who receive transplants are the same as in HIV-negative patients who receive transplants.

For the study, researchers looked at data from 21 HIV-positive and 65 HIV-negative patients with liver cancer on a transplant recipient list. The patients were placed on the list between 2003 and 2008. The overall dropout rate was 23 percent for HIV patients and 10 percent for HIV-negative patients.

One reason for higher dropout rates for HIV patients included patients' alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels. Increases of 15 micrograms per liter or greater indicate a higher predictive risk of cancer recurrence in patients after transplant. HIV patients who dropped off the list had significantly higher levels of AFP compared to those who went on to receive transplants at 98 mcg/L versus 12 mcg/L, respectively.

According to the National Cancer Institute, HIV-infected patients are 3 to 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with liver and lung cancers than non-infected individuals because of compromised immune systems, which are less able to defend against certain cancer cells.

Review Date: 
January 31, 2011