People with HIV not being tested for colon cancer

Although people with HIV in developed countries are living longer, they appear to be less likely than other people to undergo routine recommended screening for Colorectal cancer, according to New York-based researchers.

As Dr. Edmund J. Bini told Reuters Health, “Many HIV-infected patients are now living well beyond 50 years of age.” Guidelines recommend colon cancer screening for everyone over 50, or over 40 if they have a family history of the disease.

Bini, at the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, and colleagues conducted an 18-month study involving 538 HIV-positive patients, of whom 302 (56 percent) were over the age of 50 years.

Compared with similar but uninfected people, the HIV patients were significantly less likely to have undergone at least one Colorectal cancer screening test (56 percent versus 78 percent) - despite having significantly more primary care visits - the researchers report in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

The colon and rectum are part of the large intestine (large bowel). Colon and rectum cancers, which are sometimes referred to together as “colorectal cancer,” arise from the lining of the large intestine. (When cancer arises from the lining of an organ like the large intestine, it is called a carcinoma.)

Other types of colon cancer are rare, and include lymphoma, carcinoid tumors, melanoma, and sarcomas. Use of the term “colon cancer” for the rest of this article refers to colon “carcinoma” and not the other, rare types of colon cancer.

“The low rates of colorectal cancer screening in patients with HIV has important clinical implications and may represent a missed opportunity for cancer prevention,” concluded Bini. “Additional studies are needed to confirm our findings and to determine patient and provider barriers to Colorectal cancer screening in this population.”

SOUIRCE: American Journal of Gastroenterology, August 2005.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 8, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.