Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) is a disease in which cancer (malignant) cells are found
in the tissues under the skin or mucous membranes that line the mouth, nose,
and anus. KS causes red or purple patches (lesions) on the skin and/or mucous
membranes and spreads to other organs in the body, such as the lungs, liver, or
Until the early 1980’s, Kaposi’s sarcoma was a very rare disease that was found
mainly in older men, patients who had organ transplants, or African men. With
the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) epidemic in the early 1980’s,
doctors began to notice more cases of Kaposi’s sarcoma in Africa and in gay men
with AIDS. Kaposi’s sarcoma usually spreads more quickly in these patients.
If there are signs of KS, a doctor will examine the skin and lymph nodes
carefully (lymph nodes are small bean-shaped structures that are found
throughout the body; they produce and store infection-fighting cells). The
doctor also may order other tests to see if the patient has other diseases.
The chance of recovery (prognosis) depends on what type of Kaposi’s sarcoma the
patient has, the patient’s age and general health, and whether or not the
patient has AIDS.
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