Kaposi Sarcoma

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Treating Kaposi Sarcoma TOPICS

How is Kaposi sarcoma treated?

This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don’t hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

General treatment information

Treatment for Kaposi sarcoma (KS) is more effective than it was a couple of decades ago. Doctors now better understand what causes KS and have much more experience treating KS than they did when this disease was quite rare. Many clinical trials have compared different approaches to treatment.

Choices about the best treatment options for each patient are based on the function of the immune system as well as the number, location, and size of the KS lesions. The patient’s general health is also a major factor. The presence and severity of other serious health problems can make some treatments a poor choice.

For patients with immune system problems, the most important treatment is keeping the immune system healthy and any related infections under control. Some of the other treatments used for KS are:

In some patients, 2 or more of these treatments are used together.

Based on your options, you may have different types of doctors on your treatment team. These doctors may include:

  • An infectious disease specialist: a doctor who treats infectious diseases such as HIV and AIDS.
  • A dermatologist: a doctor who treats diseases of the skin
  • A radiation oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with radiation therapy.
  • A medical oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with medicines such as chemotherapy.

Many other specialists may be involved in your care as well, including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, nutrition specialists, social workers, and other health professionals.

It is important to discuss all of your treatment options as well as their possible side effects with your doctors to help make the decision that best fits your needs. If time permits, it is often a good idea to seek a second opinion. A second opinion can provide more information and help you feel confident about your chosen treatment plan.

Last Medical Review: 08/08/2014
Last Revised: 08/19/2014