Breast cancer and HIV in sub-Saharan Africa: A complex relationship

Surbhi Grover, Yehoda M. Martei, Priya Puri, Pooja Prabhakar, Miriam Mutebi, Onyinye D. Balogun, Aryeh J. Price, Alexandra H. Freeman, Mohan Narasimhamurthy, Danielle Rodin, Sarah Rayne, Nicola M. Zetola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction The number and lifespan of individuals living with HIV have increased significantly with the scale-up of antiretroviral therapy. Furthermore, the incidence of breast cancer in women with HIV is growing, especially in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). However, the association between HIV infection and breast cancer is not well understood. Methods A literature search was performed to identify articles published in journals pertaining to breast cancer and HIV, with an emphasis on SSA. Selected US-based studies were also identified for comparison. Results Among the 56 studies reviewed, the largest study examined 314 patients with breast cancer and HIV in the United States. There is no consensus on whether HIV infection acts as a pro-oncogenic or anti-oncogenic factor in breast cancer, and it may have no relation to breast cancer. A higher incidence of breast cancer is reported in high-income countries than in SSA, although breast cancer in SSA presents at a younger age and at a more advanced stage. Some studies show that patients with breast cancer and HIV experience worse chemotherapy toxicity than do patients without HIV. Data on treatment outcomes are limited. The largest study showed worse treatment outcomes in patients with HIV, compared with their counterparts without HIV. Conclusion HIV infection has not been associated with different clinical presentation of breast cancer. However, some evidence suggests that concurrent diagnosis of HIV with breast cancer is associated with increased therapy-related toxicity and worse outcomes. Systematic prospective studies are needed to establish whether there is a specific association between breast cancer and HIV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of global oncology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


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