Kaposi's sarcoma is a type of skin cancer caused by a type of herpes virus. It is characterized by raised reddish lesions on the skin and in the mouth. There are five different presentations, each with individual characteristics:
- Classic - this presents in elderly men of Mediterranean and Eastern European descent and is primarily due to higher infection rates of the relevant type of herpes virus
- Endemic - this form presents primarily in Africa in both young children and men between 20 and 50 years of age. It appears to be due to a more virulent form of the virus.
- Immunosuppression associated - this form generally appears in persons on immunosuppresant drugs and grew more common with the widespread availability of organ transplants
- AIDS-associated - The appearance of the condition in gay men eventually led to the discovery of the HIV virus and it's effect on the immune system.
Kaposi's is incurable, but can be managed with medication. In immunosuppressed patients, treating the underlying immune system disorder will usually provide relief from symptoms.
See also Moritz Kaposi, the physician who first identified the condition.