Sarcoma (Kaposi Sarcoma) - Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Diseases / Research

Sarcoma (Kaposi Sarcoma)

kaposi sarcoma

Kaposi's sarcoma in the lung of a patient with AIDS. Histopathology shows characteristic erythrocyte-filled, slit-like spaces.

Photo by CDC/Dr. Edwin P. Ewing, Jr.

Click for high-res version

Fred Hutch researchers are discovering new ways to treat and detect Kaposi Sarcoma and other infection-related cancers. To accelerate our progress, we are collaborating with researchers in Uganda, home to one of the greatest concentrations of Kaposi sarcoma, to operate the UCI/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance.

Fast Facts

  • Kaposi sarcoma begins in the lymphatic system or in blood vessels. It can lead to tumors that appear as lesions on the skin, in the mouth, nose, or throat, and in internal organs.
  • Kaposi sarcoma is among the roughly 20 percent of cancers that are related to infectious diseases. Each year, infection-related cancers kill roughly 1.5 million people worldwide.
  • Kaposi sarcoma was relatively rare until the 1980s, when its incidence skyrocketed due to a rapid increase in HIV infection.
  • Kaposi sarcoma is the most common HIV-related malignancy. Kaposi sarcoma's incidence dropped sharply in developed countries in the 1990s, as HIV awareness and prevention efforts grew. But the disease remains extremely common among HIV-infected patients in developing countries. This is particularly true in Africa; Kaposi sarcoma is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in several African countries.
  • Traditionally, Kaposi sarcoma has almost exclusively afflicted men, but the HIV pandemic has brought a sharp increase in the number of cases in women. Children of HIV-infected women are also susceptible to Kaposi Sarcoma.

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Treatment & Prognosis

Working in Uganda to defeat Kaposi sarcoma worldwide  – The Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) and Fred Hutch have launched the UCI/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance, a partnership that is working to defeat Kaposi sarcoma and other infection-related cancers. The partnership has led to the first comprehensive cancer center jointly built by U.S. and African Cancer institutions in the sub-Saharan Africa — UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre opened May  2015.   

Uganda has one of the world’s highest concentrations of infection-related cancers, including Kaposi sarcoma. This makes it an ideal place for the Hutch to rapidly develop and introduce new diagnostic procedures and treatments. And it enables our researchers to collect data from a large number of patients at a single site—something that would be impossible in the developed world, where infection-related cancers are dispersed across huge areas.

The research is focused on identifying infectious diseases that cause cancer, develop ways to prevent or cure these diseases, and training a new generation of oncologists to care for patients in low-resource areas.

Learn more about our global oncology program >

Investigating innovative new treatments – Dr. Corey Casper and colleagues are investigating new treatments for Kaposi sarcoma as one of eight core sites of the NCI-sponsored AIDS Malignancy Consortium. For more information, please see the AMC website.

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