Health Watch -- An Anti-cancer

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One kind of cancer that often strikes patients with AIDS is central nervous system lymphoma.

This cancer is almost invariably deadly, and it kills quickly, often within weeks of diagnosis.
Now, an anti-retroviral drug "cocktail" can dramatically extend the lifespan of AIDS patients with this deadly form of cancer.

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have found that treating these patients with a drug cocktail called Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy - or HAART - extends their lives by more than a year. The doctors reviewed records of patients treated at Parkland Memorial Hospital over the course of six years to see how patients fared after various treatments.

Most of the patients who received the HAART treatment lived for nearly two years after their cancer was diagnosed. In contrast, patients who didn't receive this treatment had a median survival of 29 days after diagnosis.

Dr. Daniel Skiest, the infectious disease expert at UT Southwestern who led the study, says the HAART drug cocktail had been used to treat other AIDS complications, but doctors didn't know if it would affect central nervous system lymphoma, as well. Now it looks as though this drug does make a difference. Doctors aren't sure yet whether it works by controlling other AIDS complications or by giving the immune system more strength to fight the lymphoma.