Classic Kaposi Sarcoma in the United States over the last two decades: a clinicopathologic and molecular study of 438 non-HIV-related Kaposi Sarcoma patients with comparison to HIV-related Kaposi Sarcoma

Mod Pathol. 2008 May;21(5):572-82. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2008.15. Epub 2008 Mar 28.


Classic Kaposi sarcoma is rare and occurs predominantly in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern men. Since the emergence of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)-related Kaposi sarcoma, the incidence, clinicopathologic features, and molecular human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8) association of American Classic Kaposi Sarcoma has not been fully explored. This study compares Classic Kaposi Sarcoma to AIDS-related Kaposi Sarcoma over the same two decade time period. There were 438 histologically and clinically confirmed Classic Kaposi Sarcoma patients. The ethnic/racial distribution included Caucasian/American (56%), Mediterranean (22%), South American Hispanic (18%), Black (10%), western European (4%), Middle East (4%), Scandinavian (2%), and other (2%). Classic Kaposi Sarcoma was more common in men, 7:1, with a mean age of 74 years. The lesions presented in the lower extremity (69%), in the nodular stage (83%), and HHV-8 was detected by PCR in 40/41 randomly selected cases. A second, non-Classic Kaposi Sarcoma, malignancy was present in 42% (n=45) of the 108 Classic Kaposi Sarcoma patients with complete clinical information, 73% (33 patients) with a higher incidence over the general population. Follow-up of <1-19 years (mean=4.8 years) revealed that 24% of patients died of second malignancy, 22% died of other medical conditions, 2% died of treatment-related complications, and 2% patients died of widespread disease. Thirty-five percent are alive with no evidence of disease and 15% with persistent disease. Human immunodeficiency virus-related Kaposi Sarcoma was observed in 354 cases. There was a male predominance and more aggressive behavior, with higher rates of visceral and disseminated disease. While Classic Kaposi Sarcoma in the United States is an indolent disease and rarely accounts for patient demise, predominantly affecting Caucasian/American males on the lower extremity in the nodular phase, it more importantly may denote an underlying other malignancy. Current PCR probes detect HHV-8 in 98% of Classic Kaposi Sarcoma cases. In comparison, AIDS-related Kaposi Sarcoma is predominately multicentric, visceral, and disseminated, with more aggressive behavior.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blotting, Southern
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • Herpesvirus 8, Human
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Second Primary / epidemiology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / epidemiology*
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / pathology*
  • Sarcoma, Kaposi / virology*
  • Sex Distribution
  • United States