What Are the Symptoms of Kaposi’s Sarcoma?

It may take a long time for you or your doctor to see symptoms of Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS). If you are exposed to risk factors or think you have KS, see a doctor. The major symptoms of KS are lesions, lymphedema, and swelling of the lymph nodes. Unexplained fever or unwanted weight loss are also symptoms.

These are some of the symptoms of AIDS-related KS.

Lesions

Lesions normally start out as flat or slightly raised colored spots on the skin. Sometimes they grow just below the skin and do not have an unusual color. Lesions can grow anywhere on your body. They most often start on the legs, nose, feet, or on parts of the ears, mouth, or sex organs.

Most people with AIDS-related KS have lesions in many places. As the lesions grow, they may turn pink or red. Sometimes lesions can turn blue, purple, or brown. In dark-skinned people, the lesions may be dark brown or black. Lesions do not normally cause pain.

Sores in your mouth or throat that bleed. One out of every 3 people with AIDS-related KS will get lesions in the mouth and throat. These lesions usually show up on the roof of the mouth, called the palate. They often appear on the gums, voice box (larynx), tonsils, tongue, and windpipe. Lesions on the palate usually cause no symptoms and often go unnoticed. Lesions in the mouth and throat may get sore and even bleed. They may make it hard for you to eat, swallow, and breathe.

Diarrhea or difficulty having bowel movement. Almost half of all people with KS have lesions in the esophagus, stomach, intestines, or other part of the gastrointestinal tract, sometimes called the GI tract. You may have lesions in your GI tract even though there are none on the surface of your skin. Usually, lesions in the GI tract cause no symptoms. Sometimes, though, they cause pain and bleeding. Lesions in this part of the body may cause problems with food digestion. They may also make it hard for your body to get nutrients from food during digestion, which may cause diarrhea. Rarely, lesions can block the GI tract, making it hard to have a bowel movement. Lesions can also form a hole in the wall of the bowel.

Coughing, wheezing, or breathing problems. Lesions may also grow in your lungs. Lung lesions cause coughing, wheezing, and breathing problems. You may even cough up blood. Breathing problems usually show up during exercise. The lesions may cause breathing trouble even when you are resting.

Lymphedema

Some people with KS have swelling that blocks the lymph nodes or lymph vessels. This swelling is called lymphedema. It may happen even when no lesions are on the skin. It may result in these symptoms.

  • Swelling in the legs and feet (walking may be painful)

  • Swelling in the genitals or groin

  • Swelling around the eyes

Swelling rarely occurs in the chest and arms.

Swelling of the Lymph Nodes

Other parts of the body may be infected before skin lesions show up. A doctor may think you have the disease if you have been exposed to risk factors for KS and you have swollen lymph nodes. However, many other factors, including other cancers, can cause your lymph nodes to swell. It is important that you visit your doctor if you have swollen lymph nodes.


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