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Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

South Florida Doctoral Student Published in JAMA Oncology

University of South Florida College of Public Health doctoral student Dr. Fahad Mukhtar’s research “Change in Pattern of Secondary Malignancies following Kaposi sarcoma in the era of Anti-Retroviral Therapy,” published in JAMA Oncologyexamines how tumors that develop after Kaposi sarcoma have changed over the course of the last four decades; before and after the development of effective therapy against HIV/AIDS.

[Photo: Dr. Fahad Mukhtar. Photo by Caitlin Keough.]

Kaposi sarcoma, a tumor forming cancer developed from the cells lining the blood vessels, is one of the hallmark first sign of AIDS infection in patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  This opportunistic infection causes pink or purple tumors to form on the skin and is life threatening to internal organs.

Dr. Mukhtar is a medical graduate from Nigeria. He earned his MPH in epidemiology from Texas A&M University and is a PhD student in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics.

“There has been a change in the demographics of patients affected with Kaposi sarcoma and HIV/AIDS,” Dr. Mukhtar said. “These factors taken together make it important to study the associated tumors that patients with Kaposi’s sarcoma are at risk of developing.”

According to Dr. Mukhtar, previous studies indicated that people who developed Kaposi sarcoma were at a higher risk of developing other cancers.

Using longitudinal data from January 1973 to December 2013 in nine cancer registries in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, Mukhtar found the incidence of developing a secondary cancer following Kaposi sarcoma has decreased after development of the antiretroviral therapy.

He also found that other types of cancer are still a threat to those with previous Kaposi sarcoma diagnosis.

“Patients with the disease still experience an increased risk of developing cancer of the anus and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” Dr. Mukhtar said. “In addition, cancer of the tongue, penis and acute lymphocytic leukemia have become significantly associated with Kaposi sarcoma.”

According to Dr. Mukhtar, antiretroviral treatment has allowed individuals with HIV to live longer, warranting a need to examine the role of immunity and infections in the etiology of cancer.

“Studying these tumors will increase our understanding of common etiologies between different cancers, and enable better screening and management of patients with cancer if we are increasingly aware of what type of second or third tumor these patients may develop,” he said.

Dr. Mukhtar said he plans to continue examining multiple primary cancer following Kaposi sarcoma diagnosis, as well as other tumors and associated secondary cancers.

“Publishing this paper meant I was making  a significant contribution to science, patient management and public health,” Dr. Mukhtar said. “It’s good to know that I am contributing to society and applying the knowledge that I have gained into practice.”