To compare the presentation and prognosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in people with AIDS (PWA) and in the general Italian population, a record linkage study was carried out. The fraction of NHLs attributable to HIV/AIDS was also estimated. Information from the National AIDS Registry (RAIDS) was linked with records from 13 cancer registries (CR), covering about 15% of the Italian population. During the period 1985--94, among PWA ages 15--49, 136 NHLs were identified (8% of all NHLs) and were compared with 1,481 concurrent incident NHL cases of the same age group among non-PWA. Percentages above 13% of all NHLs were registered in the northern areas of Genoa and Varese, i.e., the most heavily affected by the AIDS epidemic. Between 1 year prior to and 3.5 years after AIDS diagnosis, PWA showed an overall standardised incidence ratio (SIR) for NHL of 302. SIR was particularly high (394) within 3 months after AIDS diagnosis and subsequently declined to 170. SIR was somewhat higher in females (428) than in males (280) but similar among intravenous-drug users (299) and other HIV-transmission groups (309). High-grade NHL, particularly immunoblastic and Burkitt's lymphoma, were twice as frequent among PWA than non-PWA. Conversely, low-grade NHL were less frequent. Except for the high proportion of brain localisation, no clear difference emerged in the pattern of NHL presentation site in PWA compared with non-PWA. At variance with NHL in the general population, among PWA histological grade had little impact on survival, which overall appeared to be very poor (2-year survival: 10%; 95% confidence interval: 3%--17%). Our present linkage of RAIDS and CRs represents an efficient tool for the surveillance of trends in incidence and survival of NHL among PWA in Italy
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