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Kaposi's sarcoma - Pictures of Kaposi's sarcoma and its symptoms

Kaposi's sarcoma is a tumour of vascular and lymphatic endothelium that presents as purplish nodules and plaques. There are three types:

  • The 'classic' or 'sporadic' form (as described by Kaposi) occurs in elderly males, especially Jews from eastern Europe. It presents as slow-growing purple tumours in the foot and lower leg which rarely cause any significant problem.
  • The 'endemic' form occurs in males from central Africa and shows more widespread cutaneous involvement as well as lymph node (or occasionally systemic) involvement. Oedema is a prominent feature.
  • The immunosuppression-related form is more severe and is most common in homosexual patients with HIV. Lesions are widespread and often affect the skin, bowel, oral cavity and lungs.

All three types have a strong association with herpes virus type 8 but other factors must be involved as herpes type 8 seroprevalence is up to 10% in the USA and 50% in some African countries. HAART has reduced the incidence of Kaposi's sarcoma.

Treatment of Kaposi's sarcoma

Treatment of advanced Kaposi's sarcoma is with radiotherapy, immunotherapy or chemotherapy.

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