Unwanted cell growth in the lymph line or blood vessels is termed Kaposi sarcoma (KS). The usual sites of this cancer development are on the skin or mucosal surfaces such as inside the mouth. However, other body parts like lymph nodes, the digestive tract, and the lungs can also get affected with Kaposi sarcoma. Purple, red, or brown spots or tumors on the skin are the characteristic feature of KS. These affected parts are called lesions. Patients with KS often have such skin lesions on their legs and face that negatively affect their aesthetic beauty. In certain cases, lesions on the legs and feet or in the groin area swell up and painful. Otherwise, these skin lesions are asymptomatic. Kaposi sarcomas are in the lungs, liver, or digestive tract become a serious health problem and may cause life-threatening. Tumors in the lungs cause breathing difficulty and KS in the digestive tract leads to internal bleeding.
Types of Kaposi sarcoma
Different populations have mentioned four different varieties of Kaposi sarcomas which are as follows:
- Epidemic (AIDS-associated) Kaposi sarcoma: This is a common type of KS in the US. This type of KS is considered an AIDS-defining illness which means that HIV-infected patients who are not just HIV-positive develop KS as a serious outcome of the HIV infection. In this type of KS, patients have compromised immune system functioning.
- Classic (Mediterranean) Kaposi sarcoma: This occurs mainly in the older generation of males and females who live in Mediterranean, Eastern European, and Middle Eastern heritage. Patients with classic KS typically have single or multiple lesions on the legs, ankles, or the soles of their feet. But the growth rate of this type of lesion is a slower and also slower progression of new development compared to other types of KS.
- Endemic (African) Kaposi sarcoma: This is a type of herpes virus infection associated with KS. This type of KS affects younger people who have poor immunity may because of chronic infections or malnutrition.
- Iatrogenic (transplant-related) Kaposi sarcoma: Patients with organ transplantation have a higher risk to develop this type of KS. Usually, medicines prescribe after organ transplantation suppresses immune functioning to tackle the rejection possibilities of the new organ. But prolong medication can increase the risk of such type of cancer.
Although KS is categorized into these four different types, the changes within the KS cells are very similar.
Diagnosis of Kaposi sarcoma
Doctor orders a biopsy for findings of any abnormal skin lesion to confirm the Kaposi’s sarcoma. A small piece of tissue is removed in biopsy for examination in the laboratory. Following are the different diagnostic tests include in Kaposi’s sarcoma:
- Fecal occult blood test: This is a type of stool test to detect the hidden blood in the stool to identify the sign of Kaposi’s sarcoma in the digestive tract.
- Chest X-ray: This test helps to find out the abnormalities that may indicate Kaposi’s sarcoma in the lung.
- Bronchoscopy: A thin tube with a tiny camera (bronchoscope) is passed through the nose or mouth into the lungs for visualizing the lining and take samples of abnormal areas of the bronchi attached to the lungs.
- Upper endoscopy: A thin tube with a tiny camera (endoscope) passed through the mouth to examine the esophagus, stomach, and first part of your small intestine. If the doctor suspects Kaposi’s sarcoma inside any of these organs by checking the test report, then he will suggest performing a biopsy of the affected tissue to confirm the disease.
- Colonoscopy: A thin tube with a tiny camera (colonoscope) is passed through the rectum and advanced into the colon to examine the walls of these organs. Abnormalities suggesting Kaposi’s sarcoma in the rectum or colon can also be biopsied during colonoscopy.
No fixed treatment is recommended for Kaposi’s sarcoma. The treatment plan is depending upon the type of Kaposi’s sarcoma, location and number of lesions, nature of the lesions, and general health.