There are treatments for all patients with Kaposi’s sarcoma. Four kinds of
treatment are used:
Radiation therapy is a common treatment of Kaposi’s sarcoma. Radiation therapy
uses high-dose x-rays or other high-energy rays to kill cancer cells and shrink
tumors. Radiation for Kaposi’s sarcoma comes from a machine outside the body
(external-beam radiation therapy).
Surgery means taking out the cancer. A doctor may remove the cancer using one
of the following:
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be taken by
pill, or it may be put into the body by a needle in a vein or muscle.
Chemotherapy is called a systemic treatment because the drug enters the
bloodstream, travels through the body, and can kill cancer cells outside the
original site. Chemotherapy for Kaposi’s sarcoma also may be injected into the
lesion (intralesional chemotherapy).
Biological therapy tries to get the body to fight the cancer. It uses
materials made by the body or made in a laboratory to boost, direct, or restore
the body’s natural defenses against disease. Biological therapy is sometimes
called biological response modifier (BRM) therapy or immunotherapy.
For the treatment of epidemic Kaposi's sarcoma, a type of biological therapy called highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is used alone, or with other therapies. HAART combines several antiretroviral drugs that target HIV (which is a retrovirus). These drugs help block the virus from multiplying in the body and lower the risk of epidemic Kaposi's sarcoma.
Treatment of Kaposi’s sarcoma depends on the type of Kaposi’s sarcoma the
patient has, and the patient’s age and general health.
Standard treatment may be considered because of its effectiveness in patients
in past studies, or participation in a clinical trial may be considered. Not
all patients are cured with standard therapy and some standard treatments may
have more side effects than are desired. For these reasons, clinical trials
are designed to find better ways to treat cancer patients and are based on the
most up-to-date information. Clinical trials are ongoing in most parts of the
country for most stages of Kaposi’s sarcoma. To learn more about clinical
trials, call the Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237);
TTY at 1-800-332-8615.
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