Kaposi's Sarcoma

Kaposi's sarcoma is a rare cancer that causes slightly raised spots on the skin that range in color from purple to brown. It was first described by Moritz Kaposi, a European doctor, in 1872. It remained a very rare tumor until it started showing up in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). There are three types of Kaposi's sarcoma. The first, known as classic Kaposi's sarcoma, occurs most frequently in older men of Italian or eastern European Jewish origin. It also occurs in black African adult men and children who have not reached puberty. The second type can occur in patients who have undergone kidney transplant and other patients who are receiving therapy that suppresses the immune system. Immunosuppressive treatment-related Kaposi's sarcoma was first seen in 1969. The third type, a recent, more aggressive form of the disease, is epidemic Kaposi's sarcoma, which primarily affects patients with AIDS. Approximately 15% of AIDS patients have it, which makes it 20,000 times more prevalent in the AIDS population than in the general population. First seen in 1981, this form can involve internal organs such as the lung, stomach, etc. People with epidemic Kaposi's sarcoma often die of complications resulting from their immunodeficiency rather than the cancer. The cause of Kaposi's sarcoma in AIDS patients appears to be infection with a separate virus in the herpes family. Treatment for Kaposi's sarcoma depends on the type, the general state of health of the patient, and other factors. Indolent classic Kaposi's may not require immediate treatment. The traditional treatment for this disease is surgery to remove the lesions on the skin, electron beam therapy, and chemotherapy. Several chemotherapeutic agents are active. HAART therapy to reduce viral load is considered first-line treatment in patients with HIV.