Survival Rates for Kaposi Sarcoma

Survival rates tell you what percentage of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive a certain amount of time (usually 5 years) after they were diagnosed. They can’t tell you how long you will live, but they may help give you a better understanding about how likely it is that your treatment will be successful. Some people will want to know the survival rates for their cancer, and some people won’t.

What is a 5-year survival rate?

Statistics on the outlook for a certain type of cancer are often given as 5-year survival rates. The 5-year survival rate is the percentage of people who live at least 5 years after being diagnosed with cancer. For example, a 5-year survival rate of 90% means that an estimated 90 out of 100 people who have that cancer are still alive 5 years after being diagnosed. Keep in mind, however, that many of these people live much longer than 5 years after diagnosis.

Remember that all survival rates are estimates – your outlook can vary based on a number of factors specific to you.

Survival rates don’t tell the whole story

Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they can’t predict what will happen in any particular person’s case. There are a number of limitations to remember:

  • The numbers below are among the most current available. But to get 5-year survival rates, doctors have to look at people who were treated at least 5 years ago. As treatments are improving over time, people who are now being diagnosed with Kaposi sarcoma may have a better outlook than these statistics show.
  • These statistics are based on when the cancer was first diagnosed. They do not apply to cancers that later come back or spread, for example.
  • The outlook for people with Kaposi sarcoma varies by the stage (extent) of the cancer – in general, the survival rates are higher for people with earlier stage cancers. But other factors can also affect a person’s outlook, such as where the KS is in the body, the person's age and overall health, how well their immune system is working, and their response to highly active antiretroviral therapy. The outlook for each person is specific to his or her circumstances.

Your doctor can tell you how these numbers apply to you.

Survival rates for Kaposi sarcoma

Remember, these survival rates are only estimates – they can’t predict what will happen to any individual person. We understand that these statistics can be confusing and may lead you to have more questions. Talk to your doctor to better understand your specific situation.

As treatment of the HIV infection continues to improve, so does the outlook for people with KS. It takes time to see the effect of the most up-to-date treatment on survival rates, since they are based on patients first diagnosed many years ago. Early in the AIDS epidemic, the outlook for patients with KS was grim, with less than 10% of patients surviving at least 5 years after diagnosis. This has improved over time, with the most recent data from the National Cancer Institute’s SEER program showing an overall 5-year relative survival of about 74%. The cause of death for people with KS is not always the KS. Often, people with KS die from diseases related to HIV and AIDS, and not the KS itself.

People who are in good risk groups in the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) system have better survival rates than those who are in the poor risk group.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, Miller D, Bishop K, Kosary CL, Yu M, Ruhl J, Tatalovich Z, Mariotto A, Lewis DR, Chen HS, Feuer EJ, Cronin KA (eds). SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2014, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, https://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2014/, based on November 2016 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2017.

Nasti G, Talamini R, Antinori A, et al. AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma: Evaluation of potential new prognostic factors and assessment of the AIDS Clinical Trial Group Staging System in the HAART era--the Italian Cooperative Group on AIDS and Tumors and the Italian Cohort of Patients Naive From Antiretrovirals. J Clin Oncol. 2003;21:2876−2882.

 

Last Medical Review: April 19, 2018 Last Revised: April 19, 2018

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