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Original Investigation
August 24, 2017

Change in Pattern of Secondary Cancers After Kaposi Sarcoma in the Era of Antiretroviral Therapy

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, College of Public Health, University of South Florida, Tampa
JAMA Oncol. Published online August 24, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2017.2395
Key Points

Question  Is there a change in the risk of secondary cancers that follow Kaposi sarcoma in the current era of antiretroviral therapy?

Findings  In this longitudinal study of 14 905 cases of Kaposi sarcoma, the incidence of secondary cancers after Kaposi sarcoma has decreased in recent years. Patients with Kaposi sarcoma continue to be at significantly increased risk of developing cancer of the anus and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, while cancers of the tongue and penis and acute lymphocytic leukemia have also become significantly associated with Kaposi sarcoma.

Meaning  The secondary cancers associated with Kaposi sarcoma have changed, and screening for these tumors is important in patients with Kaposi sarcoma.


Importance  Studies performed in the 1980s and early 1990s have shown that people who develop Kaposi sarcoma (KS) are at higher risk of developing other cancers. The demographics of those affected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/AIDS and KS have changed, and individuals with HIV/AIDS and KS now live longer.

Objectives  To test the hypothesis that the secondary cancers developing in patients with KS have changed in recent years and to assess the risk of secondary cancers after KS in different periods.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Longitudinal data from 9 cancer registries in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database were used to identify cases of KS diagnosed from January 1973 to December 2013. The dates of the analysis were November 2016 to February 2017.

Main Outcomes and Measures  The primary outcome was the development of secondary cancers in individuals with KS. Secondary cancers were considered only if diagnosed 2 months after a diagnosis of KS. Standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated for the development of new secondary cancers in the pre-AIDS era (1973-1979), pre–highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) era (1980-1995), and HAART era (1996-2013). Stratified analysis was then performed on a subset of the cases diagnosed from 1996 to 2013 based on age at diagnosis (<65 and ≥65 years), latency period between KS and the development of secondary cancers (1 year, 2-5 years, >5 to 10 years, and >10 years), and registries with higher vs lower reported rates of HIV/AIDS.

Results  Among 14 905 individuals with diagnosed KS, 13 721 (92.1%) were younger than 65 years at the time of diagnosis, and 14 356 (96.3%) were male. From 1980 to 1995, SIRs were 2.01 (95% CI, 1.00-3.60) for cancer of the rectum, 49.70 (95% CI, 33.53-70.94) for cancer of the anus, 4.98 (95% CI, 2.79-8.22) for cancer of the liver, 13.70 (95% CI, 2.82-40.03) for cancer of the cervix, 6.40 (95% CI, 2.76-12.60) for Hodgkin lymphoma, and 48.97 (95% CI, 44.85-53.36) for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. From 1996 to 2013, cancer of the anus, Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and cancer of the liver remained associated with KS, with the addition of the following significant SIRs: 6.99 (95% CI, 3.20-13.27) for cancer of the tongue, 10.28 (95% CI, 1.24-37.13) for cancer of the penis, and 17.62 (95% CI, 3.63-51.49) for acute lymphocytic leukemia. The SIR of developing any tumor after KS decreased significantly from 3.36 to 1.94 from the pre-HAART era to the HAART era.

Conclusions and Relevance  There has been a significant decline in the overall risk of secondary cancers after KS. Certain cancers, including acute lymphocytic leukemia, cancer of the tongue, and cancer of the penis, are increasingly becoming more common in the HAART era compared with the pre-HAART era. Close monitoring and screening for these secondary cancers is desirable in patients with KS.