Kaposi sarcoma, a cancer originating from blood and lymph vessel linings, leads to the development of cell growths known as lesions on the skin. These distinctive lesions often emerge on the face, arms, legs, or even the genital area and mouth. Their colors range from pink and red to purple or brown.
In severe cases, these lesions can manifest within the digestive tract and lungs. The underlying cause of Kaposi sarcoma is infection with human herpes virus 8 (HHV-8), also referred to as HHV-8. While the immune system keeps this infection in check for most healthy individuals, those with weakened immune systems may experience HHV-8 leading to Kaposi sarcoma.
Kaposi sarcoma presents in four primary forms:
- AIDS-Related or Epidemic Kaposi Sarcoma: Found in individuals with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), this form is closely linked to HIV/AIDS.
- Transplant-Associated or Iatrogenic Kaposi Sarcoma: Emerging after organ transplants, this type occurs in those who require immune-suppressing medications post-transplant.
- Classic Kaposi Sarcoma: Commonly affecting elderly men of Eastern European, Mediterranean, or Middle Eastern descent, this variant typically progresses slowly and may cause localized swelling, often in the legs.
- Endemic Kaposi Sarcoma: Seen predominantly in young individuals in Africa, this form can exhibit gradual skin growth or rapid internal spread.
Understanding the distinct types and their causes is crucial for effective diagnosis, management, and treatment of Kaposi sarcoma. Regular medical assessments and tailored approaches are vital, especially for individuals at higher risk due to immune system vulnerabilities.