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Kaposi's Sarcoma

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Kaposi sarcoma (KS) is a type of skin cancer. KS may appear on any part of your skin. It can also be found in your lymph nodes, stomach, intestines, liver, spleen, lungs, and bones. KS may start in one area and spread to other areas. This cancer is most common in people who have HIV, AIDS, or a human herpes virus-8 (HHV-8) infection. People who have had an organ transplant may also get KS.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

Radiation and chemotherapy can cause many side effects such as fatigue, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. It may also increase your risk for infection and harm your heart or lungs. Chemotherapy and radiation may increase your risk for other cancers.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Medicines:

  • Pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.

  • Chemotherapy stops cancer cells from growing and kills new cancer cells. It may be injected into your sores or into your IV. Healthcare providers may also apply it on your skin.

  • Interferon can strengthen your immune system. It may also help stop human herpes virus-8 (HHV-8) from growing.

  • Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is used to treat an HIV infection.

Tests:

  • A biopsy is a small sample of tissue removed from a skin sore, or from a bone or lymph node. The sample is sent to a lab and tested for KS.

  • An ultrasound uses sound waves to show pictures on a monitor. An ultrasound may be done to show if you have KS in an area or an organ.

  • X-ray, CT scan, or MRI images will show the location of the cancer. The images may also help your healthcare provider check for KS or its response to treatment. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.

  • An endoscopy is a procedure used to see if KS has spread to your stomach or intestines. An endoscope is a bendable tube with a light and camera on the end. Your healthcare provider may take a sample of tissue and send it to lab to be tested for KS.

  • A bronchoscopy is a procedure used to see if KS has spread to your lungs. A bronchoscope is a bendable tube with a light and camera on the end. Your healthcare provider may take a sample of tissue and send it to lab to be tested for KS.

Treatment:

  • Transfusions of packed red blood cells or blood parts such as platelets may be needed to help replace blood.

  • Radiation therapy uses x-rays or gamma rays to treat cancer. Radiation kills cancer cells and may stop the cancer from spreading. It may be given alone or with chemotherapy.

  • Cryotherapy is a treatment to freeze and remove areas of KS from your skin.

  • Surgery may be done to remove KS if it is in an organ or other area that causes severe symptoms.

Support stockings:

Support stockings, or compression garments, put pressure on your feet and legs and help to decrease swelling and pain. Support stockings are often worn during the day and are removed at night. Healthcare providers will teach you how to care for your skin when you wear support stockings. They may also have you prop your legs on pillows when you sit or lie down to decrease swelling.

Physical therapy:

A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Kaposi's Sarcoma (Inpatient Care)

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