Neoplasms (tumors, or “growths”)
Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS) (pronounced “cap-o-zeez”)
Kaposi’s Sarcoma is a tumor composed of numerous tiny blood vessels. It tends to be dark red or deep purple. It may be flat, or a swollen mass. These growths are not generally painful unless secondarily infected by another type of Herpes or bacteria. Thus good oral hygiene is important in the management of these tumors if they occur in the mouth.
i’s occurs most frequently on the skin, although tumors can occur in the gastrointestinal tract and mouth. In the oral cavity, the lesions occur mostly on the palate (the roof of the mouth). Although they are technically a form of cancer, there is evidence that they are, in fact the result of a secondary infection with Herpes virus type VIII. This virus is found in high concentration in the saliva of infected individuals and can cause Kaposi’s Sarcoma only in patients with very compromised immune systems. Some recent research has shown that this virus is transferred through deep kissing.
Kaposi’s tumors are seen almost exclusively in gay men with AIDS. The occurrence of one of these lesions anywhere on the body of a young man is indicative of the presence of HIV. Kaposi’s is infrequent in women, even women with AIDS. It is also rare in men who have contracted AIDS via intravenous drug use. It is not known why women and heterosexual males with AIDS do not generally succumb to Kaposi’s sarcoma, although there is probably an association between the gay male lifestyle and the transfer of the herpes type 8 virus. These lesions occur as the initial manifestation of AIDS in approximately 11% of patients.
Prior to the AIDS epidemic, they were seen (rarely) only on the lower extremities of elderly men. They probably occur in elderly men because of age related immune depression. The reason for their appearance in elderly men and not in women may also be associated with lifestyle issues.
For more information on HIV and AIDS, click here to be directed to a page with statistics, diagnostic criteria and the history of the epidemic. You will also find a repeat of the images seen on this page with more specific information on how they relate to AIDS patients.
Lymphoma (lymphatic cancer)
Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (NHL) is a cancer that starts in a lymph node and spreads to other areas of the body through the lymphatic system and the blood vessels. Prior to the AIDS epidemic, NHL generally effected older individuals (average age 67), however the incidence of NHL has increased substantially in younger persons since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. Lesions (abnormalities) like those in the image to the right, especially in a younger person, may be the first indication that a patient has HIV, although it is usually accompanied by a generalized lymphadenopathy(swelling of lymph nodes all over the body). A suppressed immune response is a strong factor in the development of NHL, however persons with no history of immunosuppression (or HIV) may contract the disease. There is some evidence that one or more secondary viruses may bear the responsibility for the actual disease, the Epstein-Barr (Mononucleosis) virus once again being a prime suspect. Treatment for this condition usually involves chemotherapy and Radiation therapy. Oral lymphoma can happen any place in the oral cavity. It generally begins as a non specific swelling of the oral tissues in a localized area.