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Cancer Care

Am I at Risk for Kaposi Sarcoma?

Am I at Risk for Kaposi Sarcoma?


Certain factors can make one person more likely to get Kaposi sarcoma (KS) than another person. These are called risk factors. However, just because you have one or more risk factors does not mean you will definitely get KS. In fact, you can have many risk factors and still not develop the disease. On the other hand, you can have no risk factors and still get KS. Tell your doctor if you agree with any of the bolded statements.

I have HIV or AIDS

A major risk factor for AIDS-related KS is being HIV positive or having AIDS.

I have a weak immune system

A weakened immune system increases your risk for KS. A weakened immune system may be from having AIDS or using immunosuppressive drugs, such as after an organ transplant.

I am a man who has sex with men

Men have a greater chance than women of getting AIDS-related KS. Men who have sex with men have a higher risk of KS than other men, even if they don't have HIV. 

I have human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8)

KS tumors contain a virus called human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8), also called Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpes virus. While infection with HHV-8 seems necessary for KS to develop, most people infected with HHV-8 do not get KS. HHV-8 is related to other herpes viruses, such as those that cause genital herpes. Scientists are not sure how HHV-8 helps KS develop. They think that it may promote KS cells to multiply, and leads them to produce self-enhancing materials called cytokines. Cytokines are proteins made mostly by white blood cells that act as messengers between cells.

I am of Jewish, Mediterranean, or Middle Eastern descent

People with these ethnic backgrounds are at higher risk for the classic form of KS.

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