Kaposi sarcoma (KS) is a type of cancer found in the tissue under the skin or in the mucous membranes in the mouth, nose and anus. It usually appears as purple, red or brown lesions or tumors on the skin. There may be no other symptoms or there may be swelling in the legs, groin area or around the eyes. It is more serious, and can be life-threatening, if the lesions are in the lungs, liver or digestive tract.
There are five types of Kaposi Sarcoma:
Classic Kaposi Sarcoma - A rare form of the disease found most often in older men of Italian or Eastern European Jewish descent. This form progresses very slowly and lesions are found mostly on the legs and feet, especially the ankles or soles of the feet. The lesions may, over a period of years, show up in the stomach, intestines or lymph nodes. There may not be any other symptoms, however, as the tumors grow in number and size they may block blood flow in the legs, causing swelling. If lesions are found in the digestive tract, it may cause bleeding. Those with classic Kaposi sarcoma may be at a higher risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
African Kaposi Sarcoma - This form of the disease is found mostly in young adult males who live near the equator in Africa. It can be more aggressive than classic KS and lesions can spread to the bone. A second type of KS in Africa affects young children and is found in the lymph nodes and can spread to vital organs. It can become fatal. These types of KS are rarely seen outside of Africa.
Immunosuppressive Therapy related Kaposi Sarcoma - This is also called transplant-related or acquired KS. It is found most often in patients who have undergone an organ transplant and are on immune suppression drugs. It usually only affects the skin but sometimes is found in the mucous membranes.
Epidemic Kaposi Sarcoma - This form of KS is found in patients, mostly homosecual or bisexual men, with AIDS because of a weakened immune system. In this type of KS, lesions can form on many different parts of the body, including the skin, lining of the mouth, lymph nodes, stomach, digestive tract, lungs, liver and spleen. The disease can spread to different parts of the body. Treating HIV and AIDS with HAART has lowered the incidence of KS in patients with AIDS. Without treatment, KS can become fatal in as little as 6 months.
Nonepidemic Kaposi Sarcoma - Found in gay men who do not have HIV. This type is rare and progresses slowly, with lesions appearing every few years, most commonly on the arms, legs and genitals.
“General Information about Kaposi Sarcoma,” Date Unknown, Staff Writer, National Cancer Institute
“Kaposi Sarcoma,” Revised 2012, Jan 24, Staff Writer, American Cancer Society
“Kaposi’s Sarcoma,” Date Unknown, Staff Writer, UCSF Medical Center
“Kaposi’s Sarcoma,” Reviewed 2012, Oct. 6, Reviewed by David C. Dugdale, III, M.S., Jatin M. Vyas, M.D., Ph.D., David Zieve, M.D. M.H.A., A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia