Kaposi’s Sarcoma : Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Management

Kaposi’s Sarcoma : Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Management

Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS) is a type of cancer that can affect both the skin and internal organs. It is generally caused by human herpes 8. The most common symptom of Kaposi’s Sarcoma is the appearance of red or purple patches on the skin. The patches then grow into lumps known as nodules. Kaposi’s Sarcoma is a systemic disease that can present with cutaneous lesions with or without internal involvement.

It has following subtypes:
1) Classic KS
2) African endemic KS
3) KS in iatrogenically immunosuppressed patients
4) Acquired immunodeficiency virus syndrome (AIDS) – related KS

Symptoms :

They are typically found on the skin, but can also spread elsewhere, especially the mouth, gastro-intestinal tract and respiratory tract.

Skin: In skin they commonly affect areas that include the lower limbs, back, face, mouth, and genitalia. The lesions are usually plaque-like. Associated swelling may be from either local inflammation or lymphedema (local lymphatic vessels of the lesion). Skin lesions may be quite disfiguring and a cause of much psychosocial pathology.

Internal organs: The internal organs most commonly affected by Kaposi’s sarcoma are the lymph nodes, lungs and the digestive system. The symptoms of Kaposi’s sarcoma depend on which organs are affected. When the lymph nodes are affected, there may be swelling in the arms and legs which can be very painful and uncomfortable.

Causes :

Kaposi’s sarcoma is caused by a virus called the human herpes virus 8 (HHV-8), which is also known as the Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpes virus (KSHV).The virus is transmitted during sex, through saliva, or from a mother to her baby during birth. HHV-8 doesn’t cause Kaposi’s sarcoma in everyone who gets infected with the virus.

The virus only seems to cause Kaposi’s sarcoma in people with

  • A weakened immune system
  • An inherited (genetic) vulnerability to HHV-8

Diagnosis :

HIV tests: Blood test for diagnosis of HIV.

Biopsy: A biopsy is the most effective way of confirming a diagnosis of Kaposi’s sarcoma. It involves taking a small sample of cells from an affected area of skin, which is then checked in a laboratory for Kaposi’s sarcoma cells.

Endoscopy: An endoscopy may be carried if the Kaposi’s sarcoma is in digestive system. It involves inserting a thin, flexible tube called an endoscope down the throat. This allows the specialist to look inside parts of digestive system, such as bowel, liver and spleen, for any abnormalities or signs of Kaposi’s sarcoma. A biopsy may be taken if anything suspicious is found.

Computerized tomography (CT): To see if lymph nodes or other parts of body are affected

Management :

The treatment of Kaposi’s sarcoma will depend on:

  •  The severity of symptoms
  •  Type of Kaposi’s sarcoma
  •  The stage of the cancer Classic’s Sarcoma

Classic Kaposi’s sarcoma spreads slowly, immediate treatment isn’t usually required, and a policy of ‘watchful waiting’ may be recommended.

Endemic African Kaposi’s sarcoma: It is generally treated using a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Immuno suppressed patients: It is generally treated by reducing or stopping your immunosuppressants. For HIV related sarcoma: Combination of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) to help strengthen immune system.

Note : This  information provided in the website of AIMU is only for  understanding the subject . If one has such symptoms/ condition, he/she should consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.


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