What is the mortality and morbidity associated with Kaposi sarcoma (KS)?

Updated: Mar 26, 2021
  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Patients with traditional Kaposi sarcoma (KS) tend to die with Kaposi sarcoma rather than of Kaposi sarcoma. Patients with KS-AIDS usually die from associated opportunistic infections or from gastrointestinal Kaposi sarcoma with hemorrhage. The mean survival rate of patients with KS-AIDS has been approximately 15-24 months, although the introduction into the United States of apparent immune system reconstitution using highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has extended survival substantially. Kaposi sarcoma also may be fatal as a result of gut perforation, cardiac tamponade, massive pulmonary obstruction or, rarely, brain metastases.

In Kaposi's original description, death usually ensued within 3 years and was linked to fever, diarrhea, and hemoptysis. Inanition may be an important factor, and death may ensue as a result of bulky tumor obstructing the bronchi or larynx.

Patients with AIDS-related Kaposi sarcoma often have widespread visceral Kaposi sarcoma, although Kaposi sarcoma limited to the skin also is common.

Patients with iatrogenic Kaposi sarcoma tend to have gut bleeding resulting from Kaposi sarcoma, although termination or reduction of immunosuppression often, but not always, results in regression of Kaposi sarcoma.

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