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Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) is a cancer that causes patches of abnormal tissue to grow under the skin, in the lining of the mouth, nose, and throat, in lymph nodes, or in other organs. These patches, or lesions, are usually red or purple. They are made of cancer cells, blood vessels, and blood cells.

KS is caused by infection with human herpesvirus-8 (HHV-8). Most people infected with HHV-8 don't get KS. It usually happens in

  • People with weak immune systems, due to HIV/AIDS, drugs taken after an organ transplant, or another disease
  • Older men of Jewish or Mediterranean descent
  • Young men in Africa

The skin lesions may not cause symptoms. But they can spread to other parts of the body, especially in people with HIV/AIDS. If they spread to the digestive tract or lungs, they can cause bleeding. Lesions on the lungs can also make it hard to breathe.

Treatment depends on where the lesions are and how bad they are. Options include radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, and biologic therapy. People with HIV/AIDS also take HIV/AIDS Medicines.

NIH: National Cancer Institute

Symptoms of Kaposi's Sarcoma

The following features are indicative of Kaposi's Sarcoma:
  • bluish red or purple bumps on skin
  • lesions
  • bloody sputum
  • shortness of breath
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Common Causes of Kaposi's Sarcoma

The following are the most common causes of Kaposi's Sarcoma:
  • human immunodeficiency virus
  • human herpesvirus-8

Risk Factors for Kaposi's Sarcoma

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Kaposi's Sarcoma:
  • kidney or any other organ transplant

Prevention of Kaposi's Sarcoma

Yes, it may be possible to prevent Kaposi's Sarcoma. Prevention may be possible by doing the following:
  • safer sexual practices
  • do not share infected needles
  • safety measures during pregnancy
  • avoid breastfeeding

Occurrence of Kaposi's Sarcoma

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Kaposi's Sarcoma cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Not common between 50K - 500K cases

Common Age Group

Kaposi's Sarcoma can occur at any age.

Common Gender

Kaposi's Sarcoma can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Kaposi's Sarcoma

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Kaposi's Sarcoma:
  • Bronchoscopy: To view the airways and diagnose lung disease
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: To create pictures of cross-sections of the body
  • Endoscopy: To test the stomach or intestines
  • Skin lesion biopsy: To test skin conditions

Doctor for Diagnosis of Kaposi's Sarcoma

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Kaposi's Sarcoma:
  • Infectious disease specialist
  • Dermatologist
  • Radiation Oncologist
  • Medical Oncologist

Complications of Kaposi's Sarcoma if untreated

Yes, Kaposi's Sarcoma causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Kaposi's Sarcoma is left untreated:
  • leg swelling
  • pain
  • heavy cough

Procedures for Treatment of Kaposi's Sarcoma

The following procedures are used to treat Kaposi's Sarcoma:
  • Antiviral therapy: To fight against HIV
  • Radiation therapy: To kill cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy: To inhibit the growth of cancer cells

Self-care for Kaposi's Sarcoma

The following self-care actions or lifestyle changes may help in the treatment or management of Kaposi's Sarcoma:
  • Regular exercise: Do regular exercise to maintain physical and mental health
  • Eat healthy diet: Develop healthy eating habits

Patient Support for Treatment of Kaposi's Sarcoma

The following actions may help Kaposi's Sarcoma patients:
  • Family and friends support: Helps build up emotional strength and comfort

Time for Treatment of Kaposi's Sarcoma

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Kaposi's Sarcoma to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • Disease cannot be treated but only maintained or effects reduced

Is Kaposi's Sarcoma Infectious?

Yes, Kaposi's Sarcoma is known to be infectious. It can spread across people via the following means:
  • sexual contact
  • mother to fetus
  • breastfeeding
  • sharing infected needles
  • blood transfusion

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Kaposi's Sarcoma.

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