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Kaposi sarcoma

Kaposi's sarcoma; HIV - Kaposi; AIDS - Kaposi

 

Kaposi sarcoma is a cancerous tumor of the connective tissue, and is often associated with HIV/AIDS.

Causes

 

Before the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Kaposi sarcoma was seen mainly in older Italian and Jewish men, and rarely, in older women. Among this group, the tumors developed slowly. In people with HIV/AIDS, the cancer can develop quickly. It may also involve the:

  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Lungs
  • Skin
  • Other organs

In people with HIV/AIDS, Kaposi sarcoma is caused by an interaction between the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a weakened immune system, and the human herpesvirus-8 (HHV-8). Kaposi sarcoma has been linked to the spread of HIV/AIDS and HHV-8 through sexual activity.

People who have kidney or other organ transplants are also at risk for Kaposi sarcoma.

African Kaposi sarcoma is fairly common in young adult males living near the equator. One form is also common in young African children.

 

Symptoms

 

The tumors (lesions) most often appear as bluish-red or purple bumps on the skin. They are reddish-purple because they are rich in blood vessels.

The lesions may first appear on any part of the body. They also can appear inside the body. Lesions inside the body may bleed. Lesions in the lungs can cause bloody sputum or shortness of breath.

 

Exams and Tests

 

The health care provider will perform a physical exam, focusing on the lesions.

The following tests may be performed to diagnose Kaposi sarcoma:

  • Bronchoscopy
  • CT scan
  • Endoscopy
  • Skin biopsy

 

Treatment

 

How this condition is treated depends on:

  • How much the immune system is suppressed (immunosuppression)
  • Number and location of the tumors
  • Symptoms

Treatments include:

  • Antiviral therapy against HIV, since there is no specific therapy for HHV-8
  • Combination chemotherapy
  • Freezing the lesions
  • Radiation therapy

Lesions may return after treatment.

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

Treating Kaposi sarcoma does not improve the chances of survival from HIV/AIDS itself. The outlook depends on the person's immune status and how much of the HIV virus is in their blood (viral load). If the HIV is controlled with medicine the lesions will often shrink away on their own.

 

Possible Complications

 

Complications can include:

  • Cough (possibly bloody) and shortness of breath if the disease is in the lungs
  • Leg swelling that may be painful or cause infections if the disease is in the lymph nodes of the legs

The tumors can return even after treatment. Kaposi sarcoma can be deadly for a person with AIDS.

An aggressive form of African Kaposi sarcoma can spread quickly to the bones. Another form found in African children does not affect the skin. Instead, it spreads through the lymph nodes and vital organs, and can quickly become deadly.

 

Prevention

 

Safer sexual practices can prevent HIV infection. This prevents HIV/AIDS and its complications, including Kaposi sarcoma.

Kaposi sarcoma almost never occurs in people with HIV/AIDS whose disease is well-controlled.

 

 

References

Kaye KM. Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (human herpesvirus 8). In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, Updated Edition. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 143.

Lambert PF, Sugden B. Viruses and human cancer. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2014:chap 11.

 
  • Kaposi's sarcoma - lesion on the foot

    Kaposi's sarcoma - lesion on the foot - illustration

    Kaposi's sarcoma on the foot. This once-rare malignancy of the blood vessels is now associated with AIDS. It is more frequently associated with AIDS in homosexual men than AIDS in IV drug users. The malignancy results in purplish grape-like lesions in the skin, gastrointestinal tract and other organs.

    Kaposi's sarcoma - lesion on the foot

    illustration

  • Kaposi's sarcoma on the back

    Kaposi's sarcoma on the back - illustration

    Kaposi's sarcoma was once a rare malignancy of the blood vessels but is now associated with AIDS. It is more frequently associated with AIDS in homosexual men than AIDS in IV drug users. Recent research has suggested that this malignancy may be caused by a newly discovered herpes virus. The malignancy results in purplish, grape-like lesions in the skin, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs.

    Kaposi's sarcoma on the back

    illustration

  • Kaposi's sarcoma - close-up

    Kaposi's sarcoma - close-up - illustration

    Kaposi's sarcoma was once a rare malignancy of the blood vessels but is now associated with AIDS. It is more frequently associated with AIDS in homosexual men than AIDS in IV drug users. The malignancy results most frequently in purplish to reddish-purple flat or grape-like lesions in the skin, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs.

    Kaposi's sarcoma - close-up

    illustration

  • Kaposi's sarcoma on the thigh

    Kaposi's sarcoma on the thigh - illustration

    Kaposi's sarcoma, seen here on the thigh, was once a rare malignancy of the blood vessels, but is now associated with AIDS. It is more frequently associated with AIDS in homosexual men than AIDS in IV drug users. The malignancy results in purplish to reddish-purple grape-like lesions in the skin, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs.

    Kaposi's sarcoma on the thigh

    illustration

  • Kaposi's sarcoma - perianal

    Kaposi's sarcoma - perianal - illustration

    Kaposi's sarcoma usually occurs in male homosexuals with AIDS. These lesions can appear anywhere on the body as purple, elevated growths. This sarcoma is located near the anus (perianal).

    Kaposi's sarcoma - perianal

    illustration

  • Kaposi's sarcoma on foot

    Kaposi's sarcoma on foot - illustration

    Kaposi sarcoma is a malignant tumor of the connective tissue.

    Kaposi's sarcoma on foot

    illustration

    • Kaposi's sarcoma - lesion on the foot

      Kaposi's sarcoma - lesion on the foot - illustration

      Kaposi's sarcoma on the foot. This once-rare malignancy of the blood vessels is now associated with AIDS. It is more frequently associated with AIDS in homosexual men than AIDS in IV drug users. The malignancy results in purplish grape-like lesions in the skin, gastrointestinal tract and other organs.

      Kaposi's sarcoma - lesion on the foot

      illustration

    • Kaposi's sarcoma on the back

      Kaposi's sarcoma on the back - illustration

      Kaposi's sarcoma was once a rare malignancy of the blood vessels but is now associated with AIDS. It is more frequently associated with AIDS in homosexual men than AIDS in IV drug users. Recent research has suggested that this malignancy may be caused by a newly discovered herpes virus. The malignancy results in purplish, grape-like lesions in the skin, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs.

      Kaposi's sarcoma on the back

      illustration

    • Kaposi's sarcoma - close-up

      Kaposi's sarcoma - close-up - illustration

      Kaposi's sarcoma was once a rare malignancy of the blood vessels but is now associated with AIDS. It is more frequently associated with AIDS in homosexual men than AIDS in IV drug users. The malignancy results most frequently in purplish to reddish-purple flat or grape-like lesions in the skin, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs.

      Kaposi's sarcoma - close-up

      illustration

    • Kaposi's sarcoma on the thigh

      Kaposi's sarcoma on the thigh - illustration

      Kaposi's sarcoma, seen here on the thigh, was once a rare malignancy of the blood vessels, but is now associated with AIDS. It is more frequently associated with AIDS in homosexual men than AIDS in IV drug users. The malignancy results in purplish to reddish-purple grape-like lesions in the skin, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs.

      Kaposi's sarcoma on the thigh

      illustration

    • Kaposi's sarcoma - perianal

      Kaposi's sarcoma - perianal - illustration

      Kaposi's sarcoma usually occurs in male homosexuals with AIDS. These lesions can appear anywhere on the body as purple, elevated growths. This sarcoma is located near the anus (perianal).

      Kaposi's sarcoma - perianal

      illustration

    • Kaposi's sarcoma on foot

      Kaposi's sarcoma on foot - illustration

      Kaposi sarcoma is a malignant tumor of the connective tissue.

      Kaposi's sarcoma on foot

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Tests for Kaposi sarcoma

       

         

        Review Date: 11/27/2016

        Reviewed By: Arnold Lentnek, MD, Infectious Diseases Medical Practice of NY and Clinical Research Centers of CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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