Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells on the skin that is regularly exposed to the sun. Three common skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma, melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Medical experts share a lot of knowledge about these three, which means that sometimes, the rare types of skin cancer are forgotten. Kaposi sarcoma, often abbreviated as KS, is less common than the other three. When you have Kaposi sarcoma, you develop small tumours with tiny blood vessels below the surface of the skin. KS is generally not life-threatening in its initial stages. However, it can metastasise and spread to organs such as the lungs, liver, intestines and lymph nodes, leading to organ failure. Here are the early signs to watch for.
Abnormal Lesions on the Skin
Kaposi sarcoma is caused by the herpes virus HHV-8. The virus is also known as KSHV. There is a strong link between HIV and Kaposi sarcoma. This is because patients with HIV have a weakened immune system and are prone to developing opportunistic infections. Organ transplant patients are also at a high risk of developing KS. The lesions normally present themselves as flat bluish, brown or red spots on the skin. The lesions aren't painful or itchy, which is why most people ignore them.
Trouble Eating and Swallowing
This is often the first indication that KS has metastasised and is spreading to the vital organs. Cancer normally affects skin mucous membranes, which means that the gut lining and the mouth are its first destination. You may also notice symptoms such as mouth sores and pain when swallowing due to the lesions in the skin membrane.
Swelling of the Face, Arms and Private Parts
Kaposi sarcoma normally attacks the skin's mucous membrane. If your face, hands and scrotum are swollen, and you have been experiencing lesions that come and go, it is an indication that KS is entering late stages. At this point, you may also see signs such as coughing up blood, because the lesions in the lungs start bleeding. You may also have bloody stool and anaemia.
The first thing you should do when you notice these signs is to get a diagnosis. One of the most effective treatments for Kaposi sarcoma is antiretroviral therapy for HIV-positive patients. If you have few lesions, surgery and radiation therapy can also clear them up. Advanced stages of KS can only be treated with chemo drugs. Early detection is the best way to deal with Kaposi sarcoma.
For more information, contact skin cancer clinics in your area.