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Kaposi’s sarcoma

  • Definition

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


    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    Before the AIDS epidemic, Kaposi's sarcoma was seen mainly in elderly Italian and Jewish men, and rarely, in elderly women. Among this group, the tumors developed slowly. In AIDS patients, the cancer can develop quickly. The cancer may also involve the skin, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs.

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

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

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