Table of Contents
Pathology Research International
Volume 2011, Article ID 469150, 12 pages
Review Article

A Review of Carcinomas Arising in the Head and Neck Region in HIV-Positive Patients

Department of Pathology, Presbyterian-Shadyside University Hospital, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA

Received 14 December 2010; Accepted 14 February 2011

Academic Editor: J. Stebbing

Copyright © 2011 Bibianna Purgina et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The majority of malignancies arising in the head and neck among patients with AIDS are Kaposi sarcoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Patients with HIV/AIDS are also at increased risk of developing several carcinomas of the head and neck. This paper focuses on these less common, albeit important, carcinomas. An English language literature search identified numerous population-based studies evaluating carcinomas in the head and neck of HIV-positive patients. Published results indicate that patients with HIV/AIDS are at an increased risk of developing mucosal squamous cell carcinoma, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, lymphoepithelial carcinoma of the salivary gland, and Merkel cell carcinoma in this anatomic region. Data also suggest that HIV-positive patients with these cancers present at a younger age, with more aggressive disease and worse prognosis compared to HIV-negative patients. Treatment involves surgical resection with or without radiation therapy and chemotherapy for locally advanced and metastatic disease. AIDS patients, however, are more likely to suffer radiation treatment complications. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has not altered the incidence of these malignancies.