What is Kaposi’s Sarcoma?

It was Hungarian Dermatologist Moritz Kaposi who described this cancer in 1872. Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) is a tumor caused by Human Herpes Virus 8 (HHV8). It is today closely linked to HIV/AIDS. HHV-8 is sexually transmitted among those who are at risk of sexually transmitted HIV infection. This type of cancer mostly occurs on the skin but can also infect mouth, gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts.

There are Four main types of Kaposi’s sarcoma: Classic Kaposi’s cancer. It mostly infects elderly menand is mainly found in the mediterranean and Eastern European regions. These regions have higher incidents of this cancer than other regions in the world Endemic Kaposi’s cancer. This is common in sub-saharan part of Africa and infects the young , Transplant Kaposi’s cancer. This type of Kaposi’s cancer is contracted when a HHV-8 infected organ is transplanted into a patient who has not had a history of the disease Endemic Kaposi’s cancer. This type is more prevalent in HIV/AIDS patients. In all these types of Kaposi’s cancer, HHV-8 is responsible.

Kaposi’s sarcoma cancer presents itself in different forms: Lesions (especially on the lower limbs), swelling on the lower limbs, candidiasis (in the mouth), weight loss, intestinal obstruction (as a result of gastrointestinal lesions), shrtness of breath, fever and cough (at times accompanied by traces of blood).

The main modes of transmission of Kaposi’s cancer are kissing, sex and through transplant. Transmission between heterosexuals is rare and sexual transmission is mostly amongst gay and bisexual men. Use of saliva as a sexual lubricant is thought to be a major transmission mode. Organ transplant is also a major mode of transmission, especially in less developed countries.

In treating Kaposi’s sarcoma, HIV/AIDS must first be effectively managed. Kaposi’s sarcoma is not curable. Surgery is not applied in most cases. Treatment is commonly undertaken through measures such as radiation therapy. Drugs such as interferon alpha, Doxil and paclitaxel are commonly used.

The use of anti-retroviral drugs among HIV/AIDS patients has resulted in fewer deaths and lower incidences of Kaposi’s sarcoma. It is however possible that with increase of HIV infections, incidences of Kaposi’s sarcoma will also be reported.

Filed Under: Kaposis Sarcoma

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