What is kaposi sarcoma?


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Know the basics

What is kaposi sarcoma?

Kaposi’s sarcoma is a type of skin cancer that causes patches of abnormal tissue to grow under the skin, in the lining of the mouth, nose, and throat or in other organs. These patches can cause pain and discomfort to the patient. Without treatment, the  patches will spread to the digestive tract or lungs, causing complications such as bleeding and difficulty breathing.

How common is kaposi sarcoma?

It is not a common condition, with  less than 1% of the general population having Kaposi’s sarcoma. Kaposi’s sarcoma is more common in men. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Know the symptoms

What are the symptoms of kaposi sarcoma?

Kaposi’s sarcoma most common symptoms is a rash or lesion that appear on your skin. The rash can be purple or red in color. They are often found on your lower legs and face. While they may look bad, they will not cause any direct symptoms. However, they can make your leg and face swell up, leading to discomfort and pain.

Having  Kaposis’ sarcoma rash developed on your face can be dangerous, as it can easily spread into the lymph glands (nodes), stomach, and lungs. The usual symptom is a rash (lesion) of small reddish-purple spots, commonly seen on the lower legs. Kaposi’s sarcoma can also be found on the nose and rest of the face. It can spread into lymph glands (nodes), stomach, and lungs. If it’s in the stomach, bleeding or abdominal pain can occur. If it’s in the lungs, shortness of breath occurs.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should seek medical attention if you notice signs of the lesion. Kaposi’s sarcoma is a type of cancer and should be controlled before it spread to other organs. You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • If you find a discolored lesion on your face, nose, or legs.
  • If you’re in pain, have shortness of breath, vomit blood, or have swollen lymph glands.
  • If a skin lesion breaks down.

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Know the causes

What causes kaposi sarcoma?

The cause is thought to be a herpes virus (HHV-8). The virus can be passed to others sexually and through nonsexual contact such as mothers to babies (common in African countries).

There are 4 types of Kaposi’s sarcoma: Epidemic, classic, endemic and iatrogenic.

  • Epidemic Kaposi’s sarcoma: This type of lesion is caused by an HIV infection. A person with HIV does not necessary have AIDS. However, if these lesion appears in an HIV-positive person, they are sure to have AIDS.
  • Classic Kaposi’s sarcoma: This type of lesion is caused by an infection in people with weak immune system, but not as weak as those with epidemic Kaposi’s sarcoma.
  • Endemic Kaposi’s sarcoma: Endemic Kaposi’s sarcoma tends to occur in younger people (usually under age 40). This type of lesion is common in African.
  • Iatrogenic Kaposi’s sarcoma: When you have a transplant, you will be put under immune-depressant medication to avoid transplant rejection. Because of this, you might develop lesion if you are infected with a virus.

Know the risk factors

What increases my risk for kaposi sarcoma?

There are many risk factors for Kaposi’s sarcoma, such as:

  • Sex: males have higher risk than females.
  • Infected with Human herpesvirus-8 (HHV-8).
  • Have weak immune system.
  • Have AIDS.
  • Have unsafe sex.

Understand the diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is kaposi sarcoma diagnosed?

Your doctor will diagnose Kaposi’s sarcoma by checking your medical history and physical examination. Your doctor will ask you to describe any pain or discomfort you might feel and test how the lesion respond to touch.

The only sure way to diagnose it is by doing a biopsy. In a biopsy the doctor takes a small piece of tissue from the lesion to check with a microscope. Your doctor might order a blood tests to determine HHV-8 virus and to rule out HIV infection.

To make sure the lesion hasn’t spread to other organs, your doctor will request an imaging test such as x-ray, CT scan or endoscopy.

How is kaposi sarcoma treated?

Treatment depends on how severe the disease is and how far it spreads. If the lesion is small, your doctor might want to monitor the growth first without treatment. If the lesion is more severe, you might need chemotherapy or radiation therapy to control the lesion.

The most important treatment for Kaposi’s sarcoma is keeping the immune system healthy in order to keep the condition under control.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage kaposi sarcoma?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Kaposi’s sarcoma and its treatment:

  • Try to keep your body healthy by exercising and eating properly.
  • Follow your doctor’s prescription medicines or schedule for therapy.
  • Practice safe sex in both heterosexual and homosexual.
  • Don’t use illicit drugs and alcohol. They will reduce your immune system’s ability to fight viruses.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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