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Kaposi sarcoma (KS) is a cancer that causes patches of abnormal tissue to grow under the skin, in the lining of the mouth, nose, and throat, in lymph nodes, or in other organs. These patches, or lesions, are usually red or purple. They are made of cancer cells, blood vessels, and blood cells.
KS is caused by infection with human herpesvirus-8 (HHV-8). Most people infected with HHV-8 don't get KS. It usually happens in
- People with weak immune systems, due to HIV/AIDS, drugs taken after an organ transplant, or another disease
- Older men of Jewish or Mediterranean descent
- Young men in Africa
The skin lesions may not cause symptoms. But they can spread to other parts of the body, especially in people with HIV/AIDS. If they spread to the digestive tract or lungs, they can cause bleeding. Lesions on the lungs can also make it hard to breathe.
Treatment depends on where the lesions are and how bad they are. Options include radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, and biologic therapy. People with HIV/AIDS also take HIV/AIDS medicines.
NIH: National Cancer Institute
Prevention and Risk Factors
- Can Kaposi Sarcoma Be Prevented? (American Cancer Society)
Statistics and Research
- Key Statistics About Kaposi Sarcoma (American Cancer Society)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Sarcoma, Kaposi (National Institutes of Health)