Kaposi Sarcoma (KS) is a form of cancer that grows from the cells that line lymph or blood vessels. It usually appears as tumors on the skin or inside the mouth, but the tumor can extend to the lymph nodes, lungs or digestive tract.
The cancerous cells of Kaposi Sarcoma form purple, red, or brown blotches or tumors on the skin. These affected areas are known as lesions. The lesions mostly appear on the legs or face. They don’t have any symptom but may look bad. Some lesions may appear on the legs or in the groin area that can cause the legs and feet to swell painfully.
Kaposi Sarcoma can cause serious medical conditions and even become life threatening if the lesions develop in the lungs, liver, or digestive tract. KS in the digestive tract can cause bleeding, while tumors in the lungs may cause trouble breathing.
Signs and symptoms of Kaposi sarcoma
Kaposi sarcoma normally appears first as spots on the skin. These spots can be flat and don’t rise above the surrounding skin, flat but slightly rise or bumps. Spots on the legs or in the groin area can sometimes block the flow of fluid out of the legs. This may result in painful swelling in the legs and feet.
If the lesions are in the lung, it can bleed and cause you to cough up blood and lead to shortness of breath. If the lesions are in the stomach or intestines, it can cause bowel movements to become bloody.
Diagnosis of Kaposi sarcoma
A doctor can usually diagnose Kaposi sarcoma by a visual inspection and asking some questions about your health history. He may conduct any of the following tests:
Available treatments for Kaposi sarcoma
- A biopsy involves the removal of cells from the suspected site. This sample is then sent to a lab for testing.
- A chest X-ray can be used to look for signs of the disease in the lungs.
- An endoscopy is a procedure of viewing inside of the upper gastrointestinal tract, i.e. esophagus and stomach.
- A bronchoscopy is an endoscopy of the lungs.
- Surgery: Surgery is only used on patients who have only a few small lesions. In some cases, cryotherapy is used to freeze and kill the tumor. Cryotherapy has a good success rate.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is used with caution since the immune system of Kaposi sarcoma patients is depressed due to the underlying disease. The most commonly used in chemotherapy is lipid complex.
- Other Treatments: Radiation therapy is targeted, high-energy rays aimed at a particular part of the body. It is only of use in treating when the lesions have not expanded.
Kaposi sarcoma (KS) is curable with treatment, but if left unattended or if not treated fully, it can be fatal. That is why it is very important to get treatment right away.