What is kaposi sarcoma?

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Kaposi sarcoma: Overview

Kaposi sarcoma is a cancer that affects the skin, nose, throat, and the lining of the mouth. It may also affect other body tissues, including lymph nodes, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract. It often appears as purple spots or bumps on the skin.

Kaposi sarcoma occurs mainly in people who have a weak natural defense (immune) system, such as people who have AIDS.

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) to treat HIV usually works well to treat Kaposi sarcoma, too. If ART doesn't work well, or if Kaposi sarcoma is more advanced, your doctor may treat you with chemotherapy, radiation, or other medicines.

Kaposi sarcoma

Kaposi sarcoma is a cancer that affects the skin, nose, throat, and the lining of the mouth. It may also affect other body tissues, including lymph nodes, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract. It may look like purple spots or bumps on the skin.

Kaposi sarcoma is more common in people who have impaired immune systems, such as people who have HIV or AIDS. One type of Kaposi sarcoma that happens in older people is called classic Kaposi sarcoma. It grows so slowly that treatment may not be needed.

Kaposi sarcoma may be treated with medicines, radiation, surgery, or chemotherapy.

How can you care for yourself when you have Kaposi sarcoma?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • Eat healthy foods. If you don't feel like eating, try to eat food that has protein and extra calories to keep up your strength and prevent weight loss. Drink liquid meal replacements for extra calories and protein. Try to eat your main meal early.
  • If you have swelling of your arm or leg, try the following if your doctor says it's okay:
    • Prop up the arm or leg on a pillow anytime you sit or lie down. Try to keep it above the level of your heart.
    • Wear compression stockings or bandages on the swollen leg or arm.
    • Get exercise to keep fluid moving.
    • Try massage to help reduce fluid buildup.
  • Take steps to control your stress. Try some relaxation techniques. If you need more support, ask your doctor to connect you with a counselor.

Kaposi sarcoma: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are short of breath.
  • You have new or worse belly pain.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You have trouble eating or drinking because of mouth sores.
  • You find new Kaposi sarcoma spots.
  • You do not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.