Kaposiís sarcoma is a type of skin cancer. Cancer is
any of a large group of malignant diseases
characterized by an abnormal, uncontrolled growth of
new cells in one of the body organs or tissues.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF KAPOSIíS SARCOMA?
The general signs of Kaposiís sarcoma include
irregularly shaped, purple or brown spots that are
Skin lesions in Kaposi's sarcoma.
DOES KAPOSIíS SARCOMA ONLY AFFECT THE SKIN?
No. Although Kaposisís sarcoma mostly affects the skin, it can affect other parts of the
body such as the digestive system, lungs, heart, lymph nodes, spleen, mucous
membranes, and adrenal glands.
Lymph nodes are small egg shaped structures in the body that help fight against
infection. The spleen is an organ next to the stomach that helps fight infection and
removes and destroys worn-out red blood cells. Red blood cells are cells that help carry
oxygen in the blood. A mucous membrane is one of four major types of thin sheets of
tissue that line or cover various parts of the body, such as the mouth and passages for
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The adrenal glands are a pair of glands that play an important role in
metabolism and help the body respond to physical and emotional
stress by releasing certain hormones. A gland is an organ in the
body made of special cells that form and release materials such as
fluid. Metabolism is the chemical actions in cells that release energy
from nutrients or use energy to create other substances. Hormones
are natural chemicals produced by the body and released into the
blood that have a specific effect on tissues in the body.
WHAT CAUSES KAPOSIíS SARCOMA?
Kaposiís sarcoma is caused by a virus known as KSHV (Kaposiís
sarcoma-associated herpesvirus) or human herpesvirus (HHV-8).
WHO GETS KAPOSIíS SARCOMA?
In the United States, Kaposiís sarcoma almost always occurs in people with AIDS (acquired
immunodeficiency syndrome). AIDS is a decrease in the effectiveness of the body's immune (defense)
system that is due to infection from a virus known as HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). It is estimated
that about 15% of people with AIDS will develop Kaposiís sarcoma. However, the number of cases of
Kaposiís sarcoma has decreased with advanced anti-viral treatment, known as HAART (highly active anti-
retrovirus therapy). Prior to the AIDS epidemic, Kaposiís sarcoma was considered an extremely rare form
Kaposiís sarcoma is also known to occur in older Jewish or Haitian men, young native Africans, and
people who have undergone kidney or heart transplants.
HOW IS KAPOSIíS SARCOMA TREATED?
Treatment for Kaposiís sarcoma includes medications used to attack viruses (known as anti-retrovirus
therapy), chemotherapy, and radiation of individual skin lesions (abnormal areas). Chemotherapy is
chemical substances to kill cancer cells. Radiation is treatment of cancerous and non-cancerous
conditions using high levels of energy.
WHAT ELSE IS KAPOSIíS SARCOMA KNOWN AS?
Kaposiís sarcoma is also known as multiple idiopathic hemorrhagic sarcoma.
WHAT IS THE ORIGIN OF THE TERM, KAPOSIíS SARCOMA?
Sarcoma comes from the Greek word "sarkoma" meaning "a fleshy tumor." Kaposi comes from the
Hungarian dermatologist (skin doctor), Moritz Kapsosi (1837-1902), who first described the symptoms in