hepatitis_c.jpg

Hep C Not a Survival Threat for HIV+ Patients with Ca

Researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia analyzed data from HIV+ patients diagnosed with lymphoma, collected over 17 years, to better understand how Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection influences survival outcomes. Study leader Stefan K. Barta, MD, MS, MRCP presented the group’s findings at the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in June 2014 in Chicago.

A release from the cancer center reports that more than a quarter of HIV+ patients are also infected with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), which may complicate treatment and care decisions after a cancer diagnosis. The specifics of those complications haven’t been well-researched in the past. Results from the new Fox Chase Cancer Center study on this patient population may start filling in that gap.

Reactivation of HCV, in which the virus is detectable but not necessarily causing symptoms, is common in HIV+ patients. Notably, Dr. Barta and his team found that reactivation of HCV did not appear to worsen survival outcomes for lymphoma patients who also had HIV.

The release quotes Dr. Barta as saying, “Many patients do experience some reactivation of the Hepatitis C virus, but in most patients it seems to be self-limited and does not affect outcomes for cancer treatment.”
He noted that treating lymphoma patients co-infected with HIV and HCV requires caution and care. HIV more than triples the risk of liver failure in individuals also infected with HCV, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And among cancer patients, HIV+ patients infected with HCV can fall into a feedback loop that may lessen the effectiveness of treatment.

“Patients undergoing chemotherapy can experience reactivation of the Herpes C virus, which in turn can lead to liver failure,” said Dr. Barta. “This means we have to dose-reduce chemotherapy, which could negatively affect outcomes.”

In addition, HIV+ patients often take a host of other medications, including antiretrovirals, which makes them especially vulnerable to side effects like toxicity. However, Dr. Barta said the new study suggests the potential risks shouldn’t deter oncologists from treating these patients with chemotherapy.

“People should not be scared of treating patients with HIV and HCV aggressively,” said Dr. Barta. “At the same time, we have to be careful and cautious to monitor those patients because reactivation does occur and could potentially lead to severe liver failures.”

He and his colleagues analyzed the medical records of 190 HIV+ patients who had been diagnosed with lymphoma at the Albert Einstein Cancer Center in Bronx, New York, from 1997 to 2013. Patients with primary central nervous system lymphomas were excluded. The researchers found that 53 patients, or 28 percent, of eligible patients were also infected with HCV. The virus reactivated in 17 of those patients, or about one-third of the patient population infected with HCV, during treatment.

logo

The latest for the greatest!

Get up-to-the-moment health + wellness info
  right to your inbox, plus exclusive offers!