Kaposis Sarcoma - Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

By: james sameul

Kaposi sarcoma is a cancer that causes lesions (abnormal tissue) to grow under the skin, in the lining of the mouth, nose, and throat, or in other organs. The lesions are usually purple and are made of cancer cells, new blood vessels, and white blood cells. Kaposi sarcoma is different from other cancers in that lesions may begin in more than one place in the body at the same time. Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) is a disease in which cancer cells are found in the tissues under the skin or mucous membranes that line the mouth, nose, and anus. KS causes red or purple patches (lesions) on the skin and/or mucous membranes and spreads to other organs in the body, such as the lungs, liver, or intestinal tract.

Symptoms
Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) is a disease in which cancer or malignant cells are found in the tissues under the skin or mucous membranes that line the mouth, nose and anus. Until the early 1980s, Kaposi's sarcoma was a very rare disease found mainly in older men, patients who had organ transplants or African men.
Within 5 years of the onset of symptoms, 9 patients (6 with KS and 3 with PCP) had had sexual contact with other patients with KS or PCP. Seven patients from Los Angeles County had had sexual contact with other patients from Los Angeles County, and 2 from Orange County had had sexual contact with 1 patient who was not a resident of California. Four of the 9 patients had been exposed to more than 1 patient who had KS or PCP. Three of the 6 patients with KS developed their symptoms after sexual contact with persons who already had symptoms of KS.
Causes

Before the AIDS epidemic, Kaposi's sarcoma was seen primarily in elderly Italian and Jewish men, and rarely, in elderly women. Among this group, the tumors developed slowly. In AIDS patients, the cancer can develop very fast, and may also involve the skin, lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs. 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.
Immune suppression was the next likely cause since liver, kidney, and bone marrow patients who take immunosuppressive drugs to prevent transplant rejection frequently develop KS lesions. Similarly, KS has been observed in patients receiving systemic treatment with high-dose corticosteroids, which also suppresses the immune system. Immune suppression is the hallmark of AIDS.

Treatment

If the lesions are not widespread or troublesome, often the best approach is simply to treat the underlying HIV infection with potent antiretroviral drug combinations that suppress HIV replication. These drugs reduce the frequency of Kaposi sarcoma and may also prevent its progression or the development of new lesions. It is not yet clear why this approach works; one opinion is that the improvement in immune function results in reduced levels of tumour growth-promoting proteins.

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be taken by pill or it may be put into the body by a needle in a vein or muscle. Chemotherapy is called a systemic treatment because the drug enters the bloodstream, travels through the body and can kill cancer cells outside the original site. Because KS is a systemic disease, often developing in several different locations at once, a systemic treatment often is needed.

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