Causes of Kaposis Sarcoma -

By: peterhutch

Kaposi sarcoma is caused by a herpes virus -- human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8). This virus may be transmitted by kissing. Among gay men infected with HHV-8 but without Kaposi sarcoma, the virus was found in one study in 30% of saliva samples and mouth swabs compared to only 1% of anal and genital samples and, when present, the levels of the virus were much higher in saliva than in semen. Gay men who engage in "deep kissing" -- kissing that involve much contact with saliva -- thus seem to be at higher risk of catching the virus and developing Kaposi sarcoma.

The current theory is the discovery of an infectious agent. A number of viruses have been proposed as possible causes, including cytomegalovirus and human papilloma virus, fragments of which have been found in KS tumor specimens. A more likely candidate, however, is a new herpes virus that has been called human herpes virus 8 (HHV-8) or KS-associated herpes virus (KSHV). Since fragments of the virus were first disclosed in KS samples in 1994, they have since been found in KS samples taken from patients with classic KS, African endemic KS, and KS in transplant patients.

In people with AIDS, Kaposi's sarcoma is caused by an interaction between HIV, a weakened immune system, and the human herpesvirus-8 (HHV-8). Occurrence of Kaposi's sarcoma has been linked to the spread of HIV and HHV-8 through sexual activity. People who have kidney transplants are also at risk for Kaposi's sarcoma.

Blood vessels: These include hemangiosarcomas, which most commonly occur in blood vessels of your arms, legs, head and trunk; infantile hemangiopericytomas, which generally occur in blood vessels of the arms, legs, trunk, head and neck of children ages 4 and younger; and Kaposi's sarcomas, which occur in blood vessel walls, most commonly in people with immune deficiencies such as HIV/AIDS.

Kaposi's sarcoma is more aggressive. Similar appearing spots develop, but they are often multiple and may occur anywhere on the body. Within several months, the spots spread to other parts of the body, often including the mouth, where they cause pain with eating. They may also develop in lymph nodes and internal organs, especially the digestive tract, where they can cause diarrhea and internal bleeding that leads to blood in the stool.

A defect in the immune system increases the likelihood of KS developing in people infected with HIV. This occurs most often in people with AIDS and people whose immune system is suppressed because they have received an organ transplant (people receiving blood-forming stem cell transplants aren't affected). Recent studies have found that some of the drugs used to block a person's immunity are more likely to lead to KS than other drugs. Studies in people with AIDS have shown that the risk of KS increases as their immune system weakens.

Your cancer may be causing symptoms or problems that need attention, and hospice focuses on your comfort. You should know that receiving hospice care doesn't mean you can't have treatment for the problems caused by your cancer or other health conditions. It just means that the focus of your care is on living life as fully as possible and feeling as well as you can at this difficult stage of your cancer.

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