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Survival Rates for Kaposi Sarcoma

Survival rates can give you an idea of 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 of how likely it is that your treatment will be successful.

Keep in mind that survival rates are estimates and are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had a specific cancer, but they can’t predict what will happen in any particular person’s case. These statistics can be confusing and may lead you to have more questions. Ask your doctor, who is familiar with your situation, how these numbers might apply to you.

What is a 5-year relative survival rate?

A relative survival rate compares people with the same type and stage of Kaposi sarcoma to people in the overall population. For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific stage of Kaposi sarcoma is 80%, it means that people who have that cancer are, on average, about 80% as likely as people who don’t have that cancer to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed.

Where do these numbers come from?

The American Cancer Society relies on information from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, maintained by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), to provide survival statistics for different types of cancer.

The SEER database tracks 5-year relative survival rates for Kaposi sarcoma in the United States, based on how far the cancer has spread. The SEER database, however, does not group these cancers by the AIDS Clinical Trial Group system (good risk, poor risk). Instead, it groups them into localized, regional, and distant stages:

  • Localized: The cancer is confined to one area--for example, the skin, a mucosal surface such as the mouth, or an organ like part of the digestive tract.
  • Regional: The cancer has grown outside of the place where it started (such as the skin, mouth or digestive tract) and into nearby areas or nearby lymph nodes.
  • Distant: The cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, such as the lungs or liver.

5-year relative survival rates for Kaposi sarcoma

These numbers are based on people diagnosed with Kaposi sarcoma from 2012 to 2018.

SEER Stage

5-Year Relative Survival Rate

Localized

81%

Regional

65%

Distant

47%

All SEER stages combined

75%

Understanding the numbers

  • These numbers apply only to the stage of the cancer when it is first diagnosed. They do not apply later on if the cancer grows, spreads, or comes back after treatment.
  • These numbers don’t take everything into account. Survival rates are grouped based on how far the cancer has spread, but your age and overall health, the type of Kaposi sarcoma you have, your CD4 cell count, how well the cancer responds to treatment, and other factors can also affect your outlook.
  • People now being diagnosed with Kaposi sarcoma may have a better outlook than these numbers show. Treatments improve over time, and these numbers are based on people who were diagnosed and treated at least 5 years earlier.

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 editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Ruhl JL, Callaghan C, Hurlbut, A, Ries LAG, Adamo P, Dickie L, Schussler N (eds.) Summary Stage 2018: Codes and Coding Instructions, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, 2018.

SEER*Explorer: An interactive website for SEER cancer statistics [Internet]. Surveillance Research Program, National Cancer Institute. Accessed at https://seer.cancer.gov/explorer/ on February 23, 2023.

Last Revised: March 2, 2023

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