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What does Kaposi sarcoma look like?

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Quick Answer

Symptoms of Kaposi’s sarcoma include discolored lesions on the skin and membranes, which range from red or purple on lighter skin to brown or black on darker skin, explains WebMD. They may be flat or raised and can grow together. The lesions typically are not painful or itchy, do not produce fluid and do not change colors when an individual presses on them. When Kaposi's sarcoma spreads, it can also cause visible swelling of the face, legs, arms or scrotum.

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The condition is not generally life-threatening unless it spreads to internal organs. Symptoms of internal Kaposi’s sarcoma include difficulty eating, coughing and shortness of breath, according to WebMD. It can also cause internal bleeding with symptoms of nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting.

Human immunodeficiency virus is responsible for the condition in most patients, and Kaposi’s sarcoma is rare in individuals with healthy immune systems, states WebMD. The condition is generally most severe in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Health care providers reduce the risk of acquiring the condition by addressing the underlying immune system deficiencies. Due to advancements in treatments for HIV and AIDS, instances of Karposi’s sarcoma have declined up to 90 percent from earlier cases, as of 2015. Treatments for the condition include physically removing the lesions, injecting anti-cancer drugs and chemotherapy.

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