Kaposi sarcoma is also referred to as Kaposi's sarcoma-a type of cancer that grows under the skin or in the lining of the throat, nose or mouth. It can grow in other organs. The patches of cancer are typically red or purple in colour and contain both cancer cells and red blood cells. The cancer is often without symptoms but some patients will complain of pain to the affected area. Mostly, however, it is unsightly but can metastasize to the digestive tract or to the lungs. This can result in GI or lung bleeding and shortness of breath is not uncommon.

Kaposi sarcoma is associated in most cases with the HIV/AIDs virus and is a sign that a person is developing full blown AIDS. It is usually a slow growing tumour in non-AIDS patients but grows quickly in AIDS patients. Treatment for HIV can shrink the tumours themselves but if you treat someone with Kaposi sarcoma successfully, this does not mean the AIDS is improved. Before AIDS became an epidemic, Kaposi's sarcoma was more common in elderly Jewish or Italian men and more rarely, it occurred in elderly women.

In AIDS patients, there is an interaction between a poor immune system, HIV virus and the virus known as herpesvirus-8. Both of these viruses are sexually transmitted. Those who have poor immune systems because of transplantation of the heart, kidney, liver, or other organs are also at risk for Kaposi sarcoma.

There is a condition called African Kaposi sarcoma that occurs in young adult men who live near the equator. There is another form that seems to be prevalent in young African children.

Symptoms of Kaposi sarcoma include the onset of a bluish, reddish or purplish bump on the skin. The tumor is rich in blood vessel and can easily bleed if disrupted. The bumps spread and enlarge to form larger areas of cancer. They can occur in any part of the body, including the feet, the ankles, the thighs, the arms, the hands, the face or inside the body, in the mouth, throat, nose, or digestive tract. If the Kaposi sarcoma affects the lungs or GI tract, there can be blood in the sputum or emesis. If it affects the lungs, there can be a significant shortness of breath and a cough.

Doctors may need to do one or more of several tests to determine if the lesion is Kaposi sarcoma. The test for skin involvement is a biopsy or excision of the lesion, bearing in mind that they tend to bleed extensively. A bronchoscopy can show if there are lesions in the bronchial tree or lungs and a CT scan or MRI scan of the body can be done to see if the lesion is in the digestive tract or lungs. Endoscopy can be done to check the oesophagus and stomach for Kaposi sarcoma.

The treatment for Kaposi sarcoma depends on the number and location of tumours, symptoms of the disease and the degree of immunosuppression in the patient. Medications to control the HIV virus can reduce the size of the lesions. Chemotherapy can be done to get rid of Kaposi sarcoma and cryotherapy or freezing of the lesions can help. In some cases, radiation therapy is done to reduce the tumour bulk so it can be more easily excised using surgery. The lesions can recur after the treatment and can be treated again.

The prognosis of Kaposi sarcoma depends on how bad the HIV disease is. Treating Kaposi sarcoma doesn't affect the overall treatment of AIDS. The immune status of the individual is what really determines the prognosis of having Kaposi sarcoma.

Complications of Kaposi sarcoma include a cough, which may be bloody, and shortness of breath if the lungs become involved. There can be swelling of the lymph nodes and of the extremities, which might be painful. Death can be a complication if the AIDS virus cannot be managed. There is an aggressive form of African Kaposi sarcoma that metastasizes easily to bone. A related form that occurs in African children never reaches the skin but metastasizes to many body areas, resulting in death.

Medical Negligence Solicitors

Our Kaposi Sarcoma solicitors operate the no win no fee scheme which is totally without risk. You only pay legal charges if the case is won. There are no upfront charges to pay whatsoever. If you would like to discuss your potential cancer compensation claim with a specialist medical negligence solicitor just complete the contact form or email our solicitors offices or use the helpline. Once you have provided sufficient information you will speak with a Kaposi Sarcoma solicitor who will advise you on the prospects of success for your cancer claim and an estimated amount of compensation that may be awarded. Our advice is totally without cost and there is no further obligation to use our legal services. Do yourself justice and give us a call.

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The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here