Background: Studies have reported young ages at cancer diagnosis in HIV-infected persons and have suggested that HIV accelerates carcinogenesis. However, these comparisons did not account for differences in population age structures.
Objective: To compare ages at diagnosis for non–AIDS-defining types of cancer that occur in both the AIDS and general populations, after adjustment for differences in age and other demographic characteristics between these populations.
Design: Registry linkage study.
Setting: 15 HIV/AIDS and cancer registry databases in the United States.
Participants: 212 055 persons with AIDS enrolled in the U.S. HIV/AIDS Cancer Match Study from 1996 to 2007.
Measurements: Comparison of age-at-diagnosis distributions for various types of cancer in both the AIDS and general populations, after adjustment for age and other demographic characteristics.
Results: The proportion of person-time contributed by older persons (age ≥65 years) was far smaller in the AIDS population (1.5%) than in the general population (12.5%). Reflecting this difference, the ages at diagnosis for most types of cancer were approximately 20 years younger among persons with AIDS. However, after adjustment for differences in the populations at risk, the median ages at diagnosis in the AIDS and general populations did not differ for most types of cancer (for example, colon, prostate, or breast cancer; all P > 0.100). In contrast, ages at diagnosis of lung (median, 50 vs. 54 years) and anal cancer (median, 42 vs. 45 years) were significantly younger in persons with AIDS than expected in the general population (P < 0.001), and the age at diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma was significantly older (median, 42 vs. 40 years; P < 0.001).
Limitations: Information on other cancer risk factors, including cigarette smoking, was not available. Analysis was restricted to non-Hispanic white and black persons who had AIDS, which could limit the generalizability of the findings to other racial and ethnic groups or to persons with HIV but not AIDS.
Conclusion: For most types of cancer, the age at diagnosis is similar in the AIDS and general populations, after adjustment for the ages of the populations at risk. Modest age differences remained for a few types of cancer, which may indicate either acceleration of carcinogenesis by HIV or earlier exposure to cancer risk factors.
Primary Funding Source: National Cancer Institute.