Kaposi's Sarcoma, a Vascular Malignant Tumor

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Kaposi’s sarcoma
By Debbie King

Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) is a vascular malignant tumor caused by human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) and often associated with AIDS. This disease causes lesions to grow under the skin, in the mouth, gastrointestinal tract and the respiratory tract. These lesions can be purple, pink to reddish-brown or bluish (somewhat similar to a bruise) and usually papular/raised. KS is generally not considered a true sarcoma as it starts as a cancer of the lymphatic endothelium and forms vascular channels that fill blood cells. There are varies types of KS which are listed below.

• Classic KS: affects elderly men in the Mediterranean region or of Eastern European descent. Most commonly appears early on toes and soles or feet.

• Immunosuppression associated KS: similar to Classic KS with the sites presenting in various areas.

• Endemic/African KS: found in young adult males (most common in 20 yrs to 50 yrs of age) in Africa, mostly living near the Equator. This is a more aggressive type that infiltrates the skin especially on the lower limbs. African KS in unrelated to HIV infection. Appears as nodular, infiltrative, vascular masses on the extremities. Rarely found in African women.

• African lymphadenopathic KS: Found in young children under the age of 10 yrs. Very aggressive, lymph node involvement and can be with or without lesions.

• Transplant KS: Very rare that KS could be transplanted until the use of T-cell inhibitors such as calcineurin. There are 2 ways that of transplanting: 1. When an HHV-8 infected organ is transplanted to someone that had not been exposed to the virus or 2.When a patient that has a pre-existing HHV-8 infection.

• AIDS associated KS: In 1980 KS was reported the most aggressive in AIDS patients. Three hundred times more common in AIDS patients than in renal transplants. Presents with cutaneous lesions that can be one or many, rapidly progresses to papules, nodules and plaques. Shows...
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