Kaposi’s Sarcoma

Kaposi’s sarcoma tends to affect the skin and mouth but can also affect the stomach, bowel, lymph glands, liver or lungs.

There are four groupings of Kaposi’s sarcoma:

  • Epidemic or AIDS-related – affects those with the AIDS virus. This is the most common group, but has declined in the UK as the AIDS virus is now well controlled with medication programmes
  • Classic – this rare grouping mainly affects older men with Jewish, Middle Eastern or Mediterranean ethnicity. A slow-growing cancer, this group usually affects the skin on the lower legs and feet
  • Endemic or African – certain parts of Africa that are more exposed to the herpes virus 8 are also prone to the endemic or African group of Kaposi’s sarcoma. Whilst this can affect both genders of any age, it generally tends to affect men
  • Acquired – acquired Kaposi’s sarcoma can affect some organ transplant patients as they take immunosuppressive drugs that can lead to the development of this form of cancer, although this is rare

Things to look out for

Symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Lesions of the skin – these may appear initially in one area and can be raised or flat. The colour of the lesions may vary through pink/brown/red/purple. These lesions may bleed at times, which can cause anaemia
  • Breathlessness and/or cough – these symptoms may develop when Kaposi’s sarcoma is present in the lungs
  • Swollen arms and/or legs – this can occur when Kaposi’s sarcoma affects lymph vessels
  • Swollen lymph nodes – as part of the lymphatic system, the lymph nodes may swell