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J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008 Aug;59(2):179-206; quiz 207-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2008.05.001.

Kaposi sarcoma: a continuing conundrum.

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Department of Dermatology, New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey 07103-2714, USA.


Kaposi sarcoma (KS) remains a challenge. Its classic or Mediterranean form tends to be benign. In transplant recipients it may be less so. As part of the AIDS pandemic, of which it was an original defining component, it may be life-threatening. It is due to human herpesvirus-8, which is necessary but not sufficient to produce the disease. KS has a low prevalence in the general population of the United States and United Kingdom, with an intermediate rate in Italy and Greece, and a high one in parts of Africa. In Italy, hot spots include its southern regions, the Po River Valley, and Sardinia, possibly related to a high density of blood-sucking insects. An important challenge is to treat KS patients without immunocompromising them. The potential of effective anti-herpes virus therapy and the use of sirolimus in transplantation recipients have added new opportunities for KS prevention.


At the conclusion of this learning activity, participants should be able to provide the most recent information about Kaposi sarcoma in the context in which it occurs. Its classic or Mediterranean form, its pattern in transplant recipients and others iatrogenically immunosuppressed, and its occurrence as a potentially life-threatening part of the AIDS pandemic will be stressed. Its etiology and transmission will be discussed in detail to facilitate understanding of Kaposi sarcoma and of human herpesvirus-8 infection in the general population of the United States and United Kingdom, in Italy and Greece, and in certain parts of Africa. Its therapy, including the concept of doing it without immunocompromising the patient, will be stressed. New opportunities for Kaposi sarcoma prevention will also be discussed.

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