Kaposi sarcoma of the mouth

  • Labial & Gingival Kaposi Sarcoma

    Labial & Gingival Kaposi Sarcoma

    This HIV patient presented with labial and gingival Kaposi sarcoma secondary to his AIDS infection which included the maxilla.

  • Advanced Lesion

    Advanced Lesion

    This is an advanced Kaposi sarcoma lesion of the soft palate. KS is different from most other forms of cancer in that it can develop at a number of different sites simultaneously rather than in a single site. The digestive system, which includes the oral cavity, is a usual site of development.

  • Oral Signs of Disease

    Oral Signs of Disease

    Approximately 7.5% to 10% of AIDS patients display signs of oral Kaposi sarcoma. The lesions can range in appearance from small, asymptomatic growths that are flat purple-red in color, to larger nodular growths.

  • Raised, Darker Lesion

    Raised, Darker Lesion

    This image shows an intraoral KS lesion with an overlying candidiasis infection. Initially, KS lesions are flattened and red, but as they age they become raised and darker, tending to have a purple coloration.

  • Micrograph


    This micrograph depicts the histopathologic changes found in a biopsied lymph node indicative of a Kaposi sarcomatous lesion from a patient with AIDS. The histopathology revealed in this slide includes characteristic erythrocyte-filled, slit-like spaces, and occasional cells containing globules.

  • Intraoral Tumor

    Intraoral Tumor

    This patient has intraoral Kaposi sarcoma of the hard palate.

  • AIDS Patient with Kaposi Sarcoma

    AIDS Patient with Kaposi Sarcoma

    Secondary to his AIDS infection, this patient displayed a moderately advanced Kaposi sarcoma lesion of the soft palate.

  • Photomicrograph of a Cutaneous Biopsy

    Photomicrograph of a Cutaneous Biopsy

    This photomicrograph of a cutaneous biopsy shows Kaposi sarcoma at a medium magnification. The dermis contains a dense cellular infiltrate, and narrow slit-like vascular spaces that are characteristic in these KS lesions.

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Kaposi sarcoma (KS) is a type of cancer in which patches of abnormal tissue grow under the skin or mucous membranes in the mouth, nose, and anus. The cancer can also involve the lungs, GI tract, and other organs. Kaposi sarcoma tumors usually manifest as bluish-red or purple bumps. It is common for the lesions to first appear on the feet, ankles, thighs, arms, hands, face, or other parts of the body, but they can also occur on sites inside the body. Other symptoms of the disease may include bloody sputum and shortness of breath.

Before the AIDS epidemic, Kaposi sarcoma was rare, progressed slowly, and was mainly seen in older men, organ transplant patients, or African men. In patients with AIDS, the cancer moves quickly and can be deadly; in these individuals, the disease is caused by an interaction between HIV, a weakened immune system, and the human herpesvirus-8 (HHV-8). People who have organ or kidney transplants also have an increased risk of Kaposi sarcoma.

Treatment of Kaposi sarcoma is dependent on how much the immune system is weakened, the number and location of tumors, and symptoms. Options for treatment include antiviral therapy if AIDS is present, combination chemotherapy, cryotherapy, or radiation therapy. Many patients experience tumor recurrence even after being treated.

All images courtesy of CDC / Sol Silverman, Jr., DDS, and Dr. Edwin P. Ewing, Jr.

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