Rapid progression of primary vaginal squamous cell carcinoma in a young HIV-infected woman

Y C Lee, K Holcomb, A Buhl, J Holden, O Abulafia
Gynecologic Oncology 2000, 78 (3): 380-2

BACKGROUND: The association of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection with rapid progression of cervical and anal squamous cell carcinoma has been clearly established by several studies. Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection of the anogenital tract is believed to be the causative agent of cervical, anal, vaginal, and vulvar squamous cell carcinoma. While a myriad of reports exist in the literature pertaining to the rapid progression of cervical and anal carcinoma in HIV-infected patients, no association of HIV infection and vaginal carcinoma has been reported. We present an unusual case of a young woman infected with HIV who was diagnosed with advanced vaginal carcinoma and succumbed to her disease shortly thereafter despite aggressive treatment.

CASE: A 40-year-old woman with a 2-year history of HIV infection presented with Stage IVA squamous cell carcinoma of the vagina and a large vesicovaginal fistula from the tumor eroding through the posterior bladder wall. Computed tomography (CT) of the abdomen and pelvis revealed a large tumor replacing the vagina with mild hydronephrosis and diffuse pelvic and inguinal lymphadenopathy. She underwent urinary diversion with a transverse colon conduit followed by pelvic radiation with weekly cisplatin chemosensitization. A repeat CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis upon completion of her treatment revealed progression of disease with multiple liver metastases and gastrohepatic ligament adenopathy. She subsequently died of advanced metastatic vaginal carcinoma 2 months after completion of treatment.

CONCLUSION: Due to the rarity of primary vaginal carcinoma, the clinical behavior of this neoplasm in the HIV-infected patient is poorly understood. Our case indicates that, although vaginal carcinoma is a disease of the elderly, young women infected with HIV and HPV are predisposed not only to develop cervical or anal carcinoma but also may be at increased risk for vaginal carcinoma with more aggressive and less responsive disease. Furthermore, although vaginal carcinoma is usually a slow-growing neoplasm, this case illustrates the aggressive behavior of such a tumor when associated with HIV infection.

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