Cytopathologic diagnosis of Kaposi sarcoma in unusual clinical settings

J Am Soc Cytopathol. Sep-Oct 2014;3(5):244-249. doi: 10.1016/j.jasc.2014.04.001. Epub 2014 Apr 12.


Introduction: Kaposi sarcoma (KS) is a rare disease that presents as 1 of 4 distinct clinicopathologic subtypes; however, it may present in populations outside those normally encountered. In such cases, it will be important to consider KS in the differential diagnosis, as it may mimic other neoplastic and non-neoplastic entities.

Materials and methods: We describe 2 cases of KS, 1 in a patient not clinically fitting any of the 4 subtypes and the other in a patient with atypical presentation in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-associated disease. The first is an 81-year-old African American (AA) woman with a history of KS of the leg, who presented with groin lymphadenopathy and the second is a 42-year-old AA man with a known history of HIV infection, no skin lesions, and new axillary lymphadenopathy.

Results: Fine-needle aspiration of the groin and axillary lymph node, respectively, showed atypical spindle cells in a lymphoplasmacytic background. The spindle cells were positive for human herpesvirus-8 on the cell block and subsequent lymph node excision. In patients with HIV infection, in addition to reactive and lymphoproliferative processes, KS should be considered. In the former case, the demographic of an elderly AA woman without immunosuppression would not cause concern for systemic KS, but for a metastatic tumor or lymphoma.

Conclusions: Cytology is a helpful tool in narrowing the differential diagnosis for spindle cell lesions. With a diagnosis of KS, clinicians would be able to query the clinical history for a possible etiology, such as HIV, and exclude the possibility of metastatic disease.

Keywords: Fine-needle aspiration; Human herpesvirus-8; Human immunodeficiency virus; Immunosuppression; Kaposi sarcoma; Lymphadenopathy; Spindle cell lesions.