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A prospective study of demographic features and quality of life in HIV-positive women with cervical cancer treated at Tygerberg Hospital

Du Toit, George ; Kidd, Martin (2015-09-18)

CITATION: Du Toit, G. & Kidd, M. 2015. A prospective study of demographic features and quality of life in HIV-positive women with cervical cancer treated at Tygerberg Hospital. Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine, 16(1), Art. #368, doi:10.4102/sajhivmed.v16i1.368.

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Background: Cervical cancer and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) both have a high incidence in South Africa. Cervical cancer treatment of HIV-positive women poses challenges. Treatment-related changes in quality of life (QOL) of such women are important to future treatment protocols. Aim: To examine demographic data of HIV-negative and HIV-positive women at diagnosis of cervical cancer and describe their changes in QOL as a result of treatment. Methods and materials: All newly diagnosed patients with cervical cancer at Tygerberg Hospital were approached to participate in the study. The European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Core Questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30) and the Cervix Cancer Module (QLQ-CX24) were used. General QOL was measured with the EORTC QLQ-C30 and cervical-specific QOL with the QLQ-CX24 questionnaire. The patients completed the questionnaire at diagnosis, on completion of treatment and at 3 months’ follow-up. Results: The study included a total of 221 women of whom 22% were HIV-positive; the latter were younger and of higher educational level than the rest. Mean monthly income and stage distribution was similar between the two groups. HIV-positive patients underwent radiation therapy more commonly than chemoradiation. HIV-positive women showed statistically significantly higher loss to follow-up during the study. HIV-positive women experienced no improvement in insomnia, appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, social role or any of the sexual domains. In contrast, HIV-negative women experienced statistically significant improvement in all sexual domains other than sexual/vaginal functioning. The QOL improvement of HIV-negative women was statistically significantly greater than their HIV-positive counterparts in the majority of QOL domains. Global health improved in both groups, with HIV-negative women experiencing greater improvement. HIV-positive women experienced an initial decline of peripheral neuropathy (PN) symptoms post treatment with a return to pretreatment values at 3 months’ follow-up. The change in PN was statistically significant between the HIV-negative and HIV-positive women. Conclusion: Demographic differences exist between the HIV-negative and HIV-positive groups. The differential outcome in the QOL of HIV-positive and HIV-negative women treated for cervical cancer might be related to persistence of AIDS-related symptoms on completion of cervical cancer treatment.

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