Treatment of Kaposi Sarcoma
There are different types of treatment for patients with Kaposi sarcoma. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. Treatment of epidemic Kaposi sarcoma combines treatment for Kaposi sarcoma with treatment for AIDS. For the treatment of epidemic Kaposi sarcoma, highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is used to slow the progression of AIDS. HAART may be combined with anticancer drugs and medicines that prevent and treat infections. Four types of standard treatment are used to treat Kaposi sarcoma:
Radiation TherapyRadiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type of cancer being treated. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Certain types of external radiation therapy are used to treat Kaposi sarcoma lesions. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. Photon radiation therapy treats lesions with high-energy light. Electron beam radiation therapy uses tiny negatively charged particles called electrons. Photon radiation therapy and electron beam radiation therapy will kill cancer cells near the surface of the body without harming deeper tissues and bone.
SurgeryThe following surgical procedures may be used for Kaposi sarcoma to treat small, surface lesions:
- Local excision: The cancer is cut from the skin along with a small amount of normal tissue around it.
- Electrodessication and curettage: The tumor is cut from the skin with a curette (a sharp, spoon-shaped tool). A needle-shaped electrode is then used to treat the area with an electric current that stops the bleeding and destroys cancer cells that remain around the edge of the wound. The process may be repeated one to three times during the surgery to remove all of the cancer.
- Cryosurgery: A treatment that uses an instrument to freeze and destroy abnormal tissue. This type of treatment is also called cryotherapy.