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Before the AIDS epidemic, Kaposi sarcoma (KS) was rare in the United States. At that time, only about 2 new cases of KS were found for every million people in the United States each year. Most often, the types of KS that occurred were classic and transplant-related.
With the AIDS epidemic, the rate of KS in this country increased more than 20 times — peaking at about 47 cases per million people (per year) in the early 1990s.
With new treatments for HIV and AIDS, KS has become less common in the United States, and it now occurs at a rate of about 6 cases per million people each year. It is still seen most often in people infected with HIV. In the United States, KS is much more common in men than in women, and it is rarely seen in children. It is also more common in African Americans than in White individuals in the United States. Transplant recipients are another group that gets KS. About 1 in 200 transplant patients in the United States gets KS. Most of these people were already infected with Kaposi sarcoma associated herpesvirus (KSHV) before the transplant, but the virus didn’t cause problems because their immune system kept it in check. The drugs the transplant patients take to suppress their immune system allow KS to develop.
In areas of the world (such as Africa) where KSHV and HIV infection rates are high, both endemic and epidemic (AIDS-associated) KS are seen, and can occur in men, women, and children.
Visit the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Statistics Center for more key statistics.
The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified 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.
PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board. PDQ Kaposi Sarcoma Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated 01/30/2018. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/soft-tissue-sarcoma/hp/kaposi-treatment-pdq. Accessed 03/01/2018. [PMID: 26389335].
Yarchoan R, Uldrick TS, Polizzotto MN, Little RF. Ch. 117 - HIV-associated malignancies. In: DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015.
Last Revised: April 19, 2018
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