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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2003;(3):CD003256.

Treatment of Kaposi's sarcoma in HIV-1 infected individuals with emphasis on resource poor settings.

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  • 1Africa Centre / University of Liverpool, Hlabisa Hospital, PO Box 252, Hlabisa, KwaZuluNatal, South Africa.



In many countries, Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) is the commonest malignancy among individuals infected with the human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV) and is a cause of substantial morbidity and mortality.


The aim of this review was to assess the effectiveness of current therapeutic regimens for the treatment of HIV associated KS, with a focus on options that may be available in resource poor settings.


We searched Cochrane HIV/AIDS Group trials register, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (The Cochrane Library Issue 1, 2002), MEDLINE, EMBASE, AIDSLINE, CINAHL, CANCER LIT, AIDSDRUGS, AIDSTRIALS, African index medicus, physicians data query protocols, United Kingdom Co-ordinating committee on Cancer Research Register of Cancer trials, proceedings and abstracts from AIDS and cancer conferences. The search was conducted between 1st October 2001 and completed 14th December 2002. We also contacted experts in the field of cancer.


Randomised trials of therapy for KS in HIV infected adults.


All reviewers assessed trial quality and extracted data. We contacted study authors for additional information.


Five trials involving 915 people were included. Two trials involving 499 people compared pegylated liposomal doxorubicin (PLD) to a standard regimen among patients with advanced KS were analysed together. There was no difference in mortality between the two regimens RR1.26 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.83 to 1.91). The response to PLD was superior to that of the control regimen RR 2.16, (95% CI 1.68 to 2.78). Two other trials involving 402 people demonstrated that topical alitretinoin was effective treatment compared to placebo among patients with cutaneous Kaposi's sarcoma. The results were analysed separately due to heterogeneity; (1) the relative risk (RR) was 5.34 (95%CI 2.16 to 13.21) and (2) RR 1.96, 95% CI 1.27 to 3.01). The final trial compared different radiotherapy regimens for treatment of cutaneous KS. The initial complete response of lesions to 20Gy given in 10 fractions or 40Gy in 20 fractions was similar and slightly superior to that of lesions treated with 8Gy as a single fraction, RR 1.58, (95% CI 1.01 to 2.48) and RR 1.65, (95% CI 1.06 to 2.57) respectively.


Alitretinoin gel is effective in treating cutaneous KS, PLD is effective treatment for advanced KS and radiotherapy appears effective in treating cutaneous lesions. Apart from the trial of radiotherapy no trials applicable to developing settings were identified.

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