Study: HIV-positive head and neck cancer patients respond well to radiation therapy treatments

HIV-positive head and neck cancer patients respond well to radiation therapy treatments and experience similar toxicity rates as non-HIV-positive patients, despite prior reports to the contrary, according to a study in the January issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology???Biology???Physics, an official journal of the American Society for Radiation Oncology.

The researchers did note that 75 percent of patients studied were receiving HAART therapy at the time of treatment. Also, all patients underwent dental prophylaxis and gastrostomy tube placement before beginning therapy, which may have played a role in the toxicity levels remaining comparable to HIV-negative patients. Dental prophylaxis, gastrostomy tubes, and monitoring of CD4 counts are recommended in these patients to minimize treatment complications.

"It is clear that HIV-positive patients tolerated primary radiation therapy for head-and-neck cancer without excessive toxicity or exaggerated tissue reactions," Allen Chen, M.D., senior author of the study and training program director at the University of California Davis Cancer Center in Sacramento, California, said. "With HIV-positive patients living longer than ever before and therefore developing cancers unrelated to their HIV, these studies are important to ensure that we are treating these patients for cancer in a way that provides them with the best possible outcomes."

Source: American Society for Radiation Oncology

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