Kaposi Sarcoma: All You Need to Know

Kaposi sarcoma is a cancer of the blood and lymph arteries. Cancer begins when cells in the body proliferate uncontrollably. Any cell in the body can turn cancerous and spread. K-Sarcoma tumors are usually painless purplish patches on the legs, foot, or face. Lesions in the vaginal area, mouth, or lymph nodes. Lesions in the digestive tract and lungs can occur in Kaposi’s sarcoma.

Human herpesvirus 8 infection is the root cause of Kaposi’s sarcoma (HHV-8). Infection with HHV-8 normally has no symptoms in healthy people because the immune system controls it. HHV-8 can cause Kaposi’s sarcoma in patients with compromised immune systems.

What Causes Kaposi Sarcoma?

Infection with the Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), also known as human herpesvirus 8, causes Kaposi sarcoma (HHV8). A member of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) family, KSHV has been associated with numerous types of cancer. People with a strong immune system can easily carry the virus. But it causes cancer in immunocompromised people.

KSHV infects endothelial cells that line blood and lymphatic arteries. The virus introduces genes that cause excessive cell division and longevity. These same genes may drive endothelial cells to produce new blood vessels and boost inflammation-causing substances. These alterations may turn them into cancer cells.

The number of KSHV infected people varies globally. In the US, less than 10% of persons have KSHV. The infection is more frequent in HIV-positive patients than in the general US population. KSHV infection is more likely in guys who have sex with men than women. Scientists have discovered four separate populations that represent nearly all cases of the disease. Within those populations, there is evidence of KSHV acquisition and what causes Kaposi sarcoma in some carriers.

Kaposi Sarcoma Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms or signs of Kaposi sarcoma could even occur, especially in those with HIV/AIDS. Sometimes Kaposi sarcoma patients show no changes. A symptom may be caused by a non-cancer medical condition. Symptoms may also vary depending on where the disease has affected your body.

Mucous membranes. KS lesions can develop inside your mouth and throat, making it difficult to chew or swallow. They can also occur around your eyes and under your eyelids.

Respiratory tract. Coughing and shortness of breath might be caused by lesions in your lungs.

Lymph nodes. When lesions in your lymphatic system obstruct the movement of lymphatic fluid throughout your body. Swelling in the arms, legs, face, or scrotum might occur as a result of them.

Digestive tract. Bleeding and obstructions can occur because of lesions in the stomach and intestines. You may have nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea. You may also notice a bloody or black pop, as well as a drop in red blood cell count.

Skin. On the skin, KS lesions are flat, painless red or purple spots on light skin. Bluish brown or black spots on dark skin. Unlike bruises, they don’t colorize when pressed. They aren’t itchy or draining. They’re harmless. There may be weekly updates. These lesions change slowly for some. They may become raised bumps or merge.

What Are the Types of Kaposi Sarcoma?

Doctors at NYU Langone are experts at diagnosing and treating KS. Endothelial cells that line blood and lymph vessels develop this condition. Lymph vessels transport organ and tissue fluids, as well as infection-fighting white blood cells, throughout the body. Kaposi sarcoma occurs in four different settings. The treatment strategy depends on the tumor’s location. 

Epidemic (AIDS-Related) Kaposi Sarcoma. Most Kaposi sarcoma cases in the US are related to HIV. HIV only causes Kaposi sarcoma in KSHV-infected patients. HIV destroys infection-fighting white blood cells, weakening the immune system. After a while, the virus multiplies and spreads throughout the body. It can destroy enough cells to render the body immune to infections, including HSV-8. HIV becomes AIDS when the body’s ability to fight infection is lost.

Transplant-Related Kaposi Sarcoma. Transplantation can increase the risk of infection with human herpesvirus 8 and Kaposi sarcoma. Because anti-rejection drugs suppress the immune system, the body rejects the transplanted organ.

Classic Kaposi Sarcoma. Older men of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Eastern European descent are most susceptible. These areas have a higher incidence of KSHV. Some evidence suggests that populations with high KSHV rates. Likely acquired the virus in childhood, possibly through saliva transmission from mother to child.

Endemic (African) Kaposi Sarcoma. Sub-Saharan Africans are more likely to be infected with KSHV-8. Malaria and malnutrition, which are common in this region, can weaken the immune system. Endemic African Kaposi sarcoma is more aggressive than other subtypes and affects people under 40.

What are the risk factors for Kaposi Sarcoma?

Any factor that raises a person’s risk of cancer is a risk factor. While risk factors often influence cancer development, they do not cause it. Some people with multiple risk factors never get cancer, while others do. A better understanding of your risk factors can help you make better lifestyle and health care decisions.

To get this illness, you must already have KSHV. Most people with the virus never develop Kaposi sarcoma. The cancer is usually caused by a weakened immune system in people with HIV, who have had organ transplants, or who are elderly.

When it comes to Kaposi sarcoma, who is at risk?

Anyone can get KS. However, certain factors like gender, ethnicity, and HSV-8 infection can increase your risk (HHV-8). Men are more prone to KS than women. African American Jews are at higher risk for a rare type of KS called classic Kaposi sarcoma. Some KS are more common in certain African regions.

Immune system weakness and sexual activity are also risk factors. Immunocompromised people are more prone to KS. This includes people with HIV, the AIDS virus. Or organ transplant recipients. Their weakened immune system can’t control an HHV-8 infection. Men who have sex with men are more prone to KS. They’re more likely to have both HHV-8 and HIV.

What is the treatment for Kaposi sarcoma?

The KSHV is untreatable. Once infected, KSHV is permanent. There is no cure for this kind of disease. The best approach depends on your diagnosis and disease severity. Despite appearances, experts advise against treating the disease as localized. Assume it has spread beyond visible signs.

Improving immune system function is one of the treatment options for Kaposi sarcoma patients. The most important therapy for KS patients is to address the immune deficiency that allows the cancer to grow. Local therapies are also effective. When there are only a few small lesions, doctors may suggest topical treatments like chemotherapy injections. Cryosurgery, excisions, phototherapy, or local radiation.

Leave a Reply