Kaposi’s Sarcoma-DoctorSpiller.com

Kaposis2Copyright 2006 Martin S. Spiller, D.M.D. courtesy of Dr. Ed Cataldo

Kaposi’s Sarcoma (pronounced “cap-o-zeez”) 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.

KaposisArmCopyright 2006 Martin S. Spiller, D.M.D. courtesy of Dr. Ed Cataldo

Kaposi’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 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.

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