What is Kaposi sarcoma?
Kaposi sarcoma (KS) is a cancer that develops from the cells that line lymph or blood vessels. It usually appears as tumors on the skin or on mucosal surfaces such as inside the mouth, but tumors can also develop in other parts of the body, such as in the lymph nodes (bean-sized collections of immune cells throughout the body), the lungs, or digestive tract.
The abnormal cells of KS form purple, red, or brown blotches or tumors on the skin. These affected areas are called lesions. The skin lesions of KS most often appear on the legs or face. They may look bad, but they usually cause no symptoms. Some lesions on the legs or in the groin area may cause the legs and feet to swell painfully.
KS can cause serious problems or even become life threatening when the lesions are in the lungs, liver, or digestive tract. KS in the digestive tract, for example, can cause bleeding, while tumors in the lungs may cause trouble breathing.
Types of Kaposi sarcoma
The different types of KS are defined by the different populations it develops in, but the changes within the KS cells are very similar.
Epidemic (AIDS-related) Kaposi sarcoma
The most common type of KS in the United States is epidemic or AIDS-related KS. This type of KS develops in people who are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
A person infected with HIV (that is, who is HIV-positive) does not necessarily have AIDS. The virus can be present in the body for a long time, often many years, before causing major illness. The disease known as AIDS begins when the virus has seriously damaged the immune system, which results in certain types of infections or other medical complications, including KS. When HIV damages the immune system, people who also are infected with a certain virus (the Kaposi sarcoma associated herpesvirus or KSHV) are more likely to develop KS.
KS is considered an “AIDS defining” illness. This means that when KS occurs in someone infected with HIV, that person officially has AIDS (and is not just HIV-positive).
In the United States, treating HIV infection with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has resulted in fewer cases of epidemic KS. Still, some patients develop symptoms of KS in the first few months of HAART treatment.
For most patients with HIV, HAART can often keep advanced KS from developing. KS can still occur in people whose HIV is well controlled with HAART. Once KS develops it is still important to continue HAART.
In areas of the world where HAART is not easy to obtain, KS in AIDS patients can advance quickly.
What are Clinical Trials?
Clinical trials also called research studies offer high-quality cancer care treatment for qualifying patients. Study treatments may prove to be as good as, or better than the currently approved treatments. By participating in clinical trials, qualifying patients have the chance to help improve cancer treatment for themselves and other cancer patients.
Who do I speak with to get into a KS clinical trial?
For questions contact:
Suki Subbiah, MD
Previous KS Trial
Open Kaposi sarcoma Trial
An Early-Phase Clinical Trial Evaluating ABC294640 in Patients With Refractory/Relapsed Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma or Kaposi Sarcoma
Sponsor: RedHill Biopharma
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02229981
Investigational Product: ABC294640