Kaposi’s Sarcoma: A Reevaluation

  • C. E. Orfanos
  • R. Husak
  • U. Wölfer
  • C. Garbe
Part of the Recent Results in Cancer Research book series (RECENTCANCER, volume 139)


Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) is a multicentric neoplasia of microvascular origin arising during development of immunodeficiency in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals. More than 130 patients with HIV-associated KS (98% male homosexuals; median age, 35 years) have been diagnosed at the Department of Dermatology, University Medical Center Steglitz, Berlin, during the years 1982–1992. Mucocutaneous and visceral involvement was a common finding in patients with HIV-associated KS, increasing from 39% at the first visit to 65% at the last observation. In 90% of the patients significant immunosuppression was found (75% had a CD4+ count < 200/mm3) at the time of first diagnosis. However, immunosuppression was not a prerequisite for the development of KS, since the tumor had been diagnosed before severe immunosuppression was present in about 10% of the patients. Significant prognostic predictors for the final outcome were: (a) the degree of immunosuppression, (b) the presence of mucosal and visceral manifestation, and (c) the past history of opportunistic infections. The median survival time was 28 months in KS patients with more than 300 CD4+ lymphocytes (n = 18), but only 14 months in immutiosuppressed (less than 300 CD4+ lymphocytes) individuals with KS (n = 70). The median survival time in the entire group evaluated (n = 89 patients) was 17 months after first diagnosis. In 71 HIV-infected individuals who died at the Berlin Department during the last 8 years, disseminated KS was the major direct or indirect cause of death (49% of cases).

Therapeutic benefit for KS patients was observed after long-term administration of recombinant interferon alpha (rIFN-α; 9–18 million IU s.c. every 2 days) alone or combined with antiretroviral drugs such as zidovudine over several months. Prolongation of survival was found after such treatment modalities in 30%–40% of treated patients. Bleomycin and vincristine and other systemically used cytostatics have also been applied with moderate results.

The etiology of HIV-associated KS is still unknown and coinfection with herpes simplex virus (HSV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), or human papillomavirus (HPV) as well as certain growth-stimulating cytokines (transforming growth factors, TGF; tumor necrosis factor alpha, TNF-α; in-terleukin-6, IL-6; tat; vascular endothelial growth factors, VEGF; oncostatin M) produced by HIV-infected cells may be cofactors. Overall, KS was found to be a tumor with high malignant potential, and the median survival times were short. In spite of the poor prognosis, management and treatment results were improved by use of IFN-α, antiretroviral and cytotoxic drugs, and by the growing experience of the medical community with this HIV-associated tumor.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection Acquire Immune Deficiency Syndrome Human Immunodeficiency Virus Patient Acquire Immune Deficiency Syndrome Patient 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. E. Orfanos
    • 1
  • R. Husak
    • 1
  • U. Wölfer
    • 1
  • C. Garbe
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of DermatologyUniversity Medical Center Steglitz, The Free University of BerlinBerlinGermany

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