Kaposi sarcoma

Last reviewed: 27 Aug 2022
Last updated: 19 Dec 2019



History and exam

Key diagnostic factors

  • age >50 years
  • male gender
  • geographic location: sub-Saharan Africa or the Mediterranean
  • HIV infection
  • HHV-8 (also known as Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus [KSHV]) infection
  • immunosuppression
  • skin lesion
  • oral lesion
  • lymphadenopathy
  • lymphedema
More key diagnostic factors

Other diagnostic factors

  • weight loss
  • abdominal pain
  • GI bleeding
  • diarrhea
  • dyspnea
  • hemoptysis
  • chest pain
  • fever
Other diagnostic factors

Risk factors

  • male gender
  • HIV infection
  • drug abuse
  • immunosuppression therapy
  • transplantation
  • human herpesvirus-8 (HHV-8, also known as Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus [KSHV]) infection
  • central African ethnicity (Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland)
  • Jewish ethnicity
  • Mediterranean ethnicity
  • age <5 years or >50 years
More risk factors

Diagnostic investigations

1st investigations to order

  • HIV test
  • skin/mucosal biopsy
  • lymph node biopsy
  • fecal occult blood
  • CXR
More 1st investigations to order

Investigations to consider

  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • bronchoscopy
  • GI endoscopy
  • PET scan
  • CBC
  • renal function tests
  • LFTs
More investigations to consider

Emerging tests

  • human herpesvirus-8 (HHV-8, also known as Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus [KSHV]) viremia and serology

Treatment algorithm


epidemic AIDS-related KS

classic sporadic KS

iatrogenic and transplant-associated KS

African endemic KS



David Aboulafia, MD

Attending Hematologist and Oncologist

Virginia Mason Clinical Professor of Medicine

Division of Hematology and Oncology

University of Washington




DA is the author of articles cited in this topic.


Dr David Aboulafia would like to gratefully acknowledge Dr Liron Pantanowitz and Dr Bruce J. Dezube, previous contributors to this topic.

Peer reviewers

Justin Stebbing, MA, MRCP, MRCPath, PhD

Consultant Medical Oncologist/Senior Lecturer

Department of Medical Oncology

Imperial College/Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust

Charing Cross Hospital




JS declares that he has no competing interests.

Thierry Simonart, MD, PhD


Department of Dermatology

Erasme University Hospital




TS declares that he has no competing interests.

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