Kaposi’s Sarcoma And HIV/AIDS
Kaposi’s sarcoma is a cancer caused due to HHV-8 which is also known as KS agent. It was one of the first opportunistic infection recognized occurring with HIV infection. This cancer develops from the cells that line the lymph or blood vessels and it most commonly affects one’s skin and mouth.
The major cause of Kaposi’s sarcoma in nowadays is HIV infection. Since patients suffering from HIV infection possess a weaker immune system therefore they are more prone to certain types of diseases, infections and cancers which are popularly known as complications of HIV/AIDS. Kaposi’s sarcoma is one of the major cancers that occur to the patients of HIV infection at the stage of AIDS.
There are various types of this cancer such as Epidemic Kaposi sarcoma, Classic Kaposi sarcoma, Endemic Kaposi sarcoma and Iatrogenic Kaposi sarcoma. Patients of HIV/AIDS develop Endemic Kaposi sarcoma which is also known as AIDS related Kaposi sarcoma.
Signs and Symptoms of Kaposi’s sarcoma
Patients suffering from Kaposi’s sarcoma develop KS lesions which are nodules of different colors such as red, brown, black or purple. These lesions usually develop on skins but there have been cases where they were found at some other parts of the body.
Skin and Mouth Lesions:
The KS lesions affecting the skin are as described above. They most commonly affect one’s face and back but are also found in genitalia, mouth and lower limbs. The growth of these lesions varies from patient to patient. The growth may be enormously fast or super slow.
Mouth is affected in more than 20% patients of HIV/AIDS who develop Kaposi’s sarcoma. In this case, the gums and the hard palate are mostly affected. KS lesions developing in the mouth usually gets damaged while eating which may lead to secondary infection.
Gastrointestinal and Respiratory Tract:
KS lesions in gastrointestinal tract usually develop in the case of Epidemic or AIDS related Kaposi’s sarcoma. The KS lesions that develop in this tract usually causes pain in the tract, weight loss, diarrhea or vomiting.
The involvement of respiratory tract in this cancer is diagnosed and confirmed via bronchoscopy. If there is involvement of respiratory tract then cough, shortness of breath and chest pain are the usual symptoms that the patient might have to suffer.
Transmission and Treatment of Kaposi’s sarcoma
Kaposi’s sarcoma is usually transmitted via saliva. Research shows that kissing is the major factor of transmission of KS. Other ways of transmission of Kaposi’s sarcoma are via blood transfusion with infected blood or via infected organ transplantation. In order to prevent this disease special blood tests have been developed that identify antibodies against KSHV. With the help of these blood tests one can find out whether a person is at a risk of transmitting this disease to another person or not.
In simple words, there is no scientifically approved cure for Kaposi’s sarcoma. There are numerous ways to effectively treat this disease but this disease cannot be cured yet. If the patient suffering from HIV infection is also suffering Kaposi’s sarcoma then treating the HIV infection can help to treat KS too.
Other ways to treat KS are chemotherapy and biological therapy. If KS has spread to your whole body and in the case where highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is not working then systematic chemotherapy is suggested to treat this disease. KS can also be treated with the help of biological therapy with the help of alpha interferon which is produced by the immune system of the body.