2. Kaposi's sarcoma multiform

What Is Kaposi’s Sarcoma Cancer

Kaposi’s sarcoma is a deadly cancer that occurs in the lining of blood vessels and lymph nodes. The tumours usually appear as painless purple spots on the legs, feet, or face. They may also appear in the genital area, mouth and/or lymph nodes. In severe cases the lesions can grow into your digestive tract and lungs.

The disease does not spread from one person to another through direct contact with lesions or bodily fluids such as blood or urine.

Kaposi’s sarcoma is a potentially fatal form of cancer that mainly affects the lymph nodes, skin and internal organs. Because it is often diagnosed very late, it has been nicknamed “the hidden killer”.

  • The most common types of Kaposi’s sarcoma are:
  • large, raised, pink or purple patches on the skin (papules)
  • tiny red spots (pustules) on the skin or in the mouth
  • fluid-filled lymph nodes in the armpit or groin area
  • larger lymph nodes in other parts of your body.


  1. Kaposi’s sarcoma mosaicism (KS-m) occurs when cells from different areas of your body develop into Kaposi’s sarcoma cells. This can happen when you have many different types of cancer cells in your body at the same time. You may not know this has happened because you do not see any symptoms until later on.
  2. Kaposi’s sarcoma multiform (KS-m) is much less common than KS-m mosaicism and usually affects only one area of your body at a time, rather than being all over your body at once. It is more likely to affect older people and those with HIV or who have had some other form of cancer treatment in the past.


Kaposi’s sarcoma is a rare skin cancer that occurs most often among HIV/AIDS patients on highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) who are taking at least three different medications for their HIV infection for at least six months without stopping therapy to treat opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis (TB) or fungal infections such as candidiasis (thrush).

It often begins as a red bump (lesion) that slowly enlarges. The lesion can appear anywhere on the body but usually appears on the face and neck, particularly around the mouth and eyes. Lesions of Kaposi’s sarcoma also may appear under your fingernails or in your urethra.

The first sign of Kaposi sarcoma may be a rash on the skin. This patchy redness and itching can occur anywhere on the body, including:

Face. The most common site for lesions is the face, especially around the mouth and eyes.

Chest. Kaposi sarcoma can spread to the chest cavity, causing an enlarged spleen (splenomegaly) or enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or armpit area.

Arms and legs. Lesions may occur on the arms and legs, especially in people who have had a previous infection with HIV or another sexually transmitted disease (STD).

Back of neck or scalp (mohs surgery). The back of your neck and scalp are sometimes affected by Kaposi sarcoma; this is called mohs surgery because it was named after Dr. George T. Mohs Jr., who performed this procedure more than 80 years ago.

The most common symptoms include fever and night sweats. Other symptoms include skin rashes, swollen lymph nodes and enlarged lymph glands. Severe cases may lead to weight loss and muscle wasting. The cause of Kaposi’s sarcoma isn’t known for certain, but it’s believed to be related to an infection caused by herpes virus.

Those who have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, get Kaposi’s sarcoma. Human immunodeficiency virus is referred to as HIV. An HIV-positive individual does not necessarily have AIDS, but the virus can remain in the body for a long period, sometimes for many years, before producing serious illness. When a person’s immune system has been severely compromised by the virus, the illness known as AIDS develops. As a result, individuals are more susceptible to infections (such the Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, or KSHV), as well as other health issues.

The disease occurs most often on limbs, torso and scalp, but it can occur anywhere on the body.

SYMPTOMS Of Kaposi sarcoma


The risk factors for KS are not well understood, but certain risk factors have been identified. These include:

  • Age: The average age at diagnosis is 66 years; however, it can occur at any age and may occur in childhood or adulthood.
  • Race/ethnicity: Most cases occur in African-Americans and Hispanics, but other ethnicities are affected as well (e.g., Asian-Americans)
  • Infection with HHV-8: At least 90% of patients have antibodies against HHV-8, although some people do not test positive for antibodies even though they are infected with HHV-8. This suggests that there are some individuals who don’t show any symptoms of having been infected with HHV-8
  • Kaposi sarcoma is more common in men than women, although both genders can get it. It’s more common in people between 30 and 50 years old, although it can affect anyone at any age.
  • It is most common in people who have had prolonged exposure to the sun or ultraviolet (UV) light. It can also develop in people with no known risk factors, however.


There is no cure for Kaposi’s sarcoma. Treatments aim to relieve symptoms such as pain and swelling and control the spread of the disease. Treatment for Kaposi’s sarcoma may include:

  • Steroids to reduce inflammation and help your immune system fight the virus
  • Antiviral medications to prevent or treat HHV-8 infection (if you have weakened immune systems)
  • Surgery to remove lesions that have grown too large.
  • Radiation therapy if you have severe, extensive disease.
  • Improving immune system function: This is most essential for patients with Kaposi sarcoma to tackle the immune deficiency that might allow the cancer to develop.
  • Local therapies: Some doctors may suggest topical treatments including injection of chemotherapy directly into lesions, cryosurgery, excisions, phototherapy or local radiation when there are only a few small lesions.
  • Chemotherapy: Patients who do not see improvement in Kaposi sarcoma after addressing immune deficiencies may require chemotherapy as a follow-up treatment. Chemotherapy is usually administered intravenously, although some oral therapies are now being used.
  • Immunotherapy: This type of treatment works by activating the immune system’s natural ability to fight cancer.
  • Injections with interleukin-2 (IL-2), which stimulates an individual’s own immune system to recognize and attack specific cells that have been infected by tumor cells or virus particles (virus).

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