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HIV-Associated Cancer Information

Positron-emmission tomography (PET) scan of the head of a patient with HIV-associated central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma.

Patients with HIV infection are at increased risk for a number of types of cancer. Certain cancers are “AIDS-defining”; they confer a diagnosis of AIDS when they occur in an HIV-infected patient. These “AIDS-defining” cancers are Kaposi’s sarcoma, certain high-grade B cell lymphomas, primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphomas, and invasive cervical cancer. “AIDS-related”, “AIDS-associated”, or “HIV-associated” are more general terms used to describe cancers whose incidence is increased in HIV-infected patients. Many, but not all, of the cancers associated with HIV infection are associated with cancer-causing viruses such as Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus or human papillomavirus (HPV).

The table below lists some of the more important HIV-associated tumors. For each tumor is shown its “standardized incidence ratio” (SIR), the relative frequency of the tumor in HIV-infected patients as compared to the general population in the United States, for the period from 1996 to 2002. AIDS-defining tumors are shown in red. Among the non-AIDS defining tumors, the most common overall in HIV-infected patients is lung cancer because it has a high underlying incidence in the general population.

Tumor SIR*
Kaposi sarcoma Greater than 1000
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma 23
Primary CNS lymphoma 1020
Cancer of the cervix 5
Cancer of the anus 20
Hodgkin lymphoma 14
Cancer of the penis 8
Liver cancer 3
Cancer of the larynx 3
Lung cancer 3
Cancer of the mouth or pharynx 2
All non-AIDS-associated cancers 2
*SIR - Standardized incidence ratio

From E.A. Engels et al., AIDS 2006, 20: 1645-1654.

Information on Specific HIV-Associated Cancers

Below is information about specific HIV-associated cancers provided by the NCI elsewhere on For most cancers the link is directed to general information on the specific cancer. For Kaposi's sarcoma, AIDS-related lymphoma, and primary CNS lymphoma there is general information for patients and also more detailed information for health professionals.

For information on other HIV-associated cancers or cancers that may arise in the setting of HIV, you can look up the particular cancer type in NCI Cancer Topics.

AIDSinfo has general information on HIV/AIDS.