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The Epidemiologic, Pathologic, and Clinical Features of AIDS-Associated Pulmonary Kaposi’s Sarcoma*

David M. Aboulafia, MD
Author and Funding Information

*From the Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA.

Correspondence to: David M. Aboulafia, MD, Section of Hematology/Oncology, Virginia Mason Medical Center, 1100 Ninth Ave, PO Box 900 (H14-HEM), Seattle, WA 98111



Chest. 2000;117(4):1128-1145. doi:10.1378/chest.117.4.1128
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AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) occurs principally in homosexual or bisexual men infected with the newly identified human herpes virus-8, also called KS-associated herpes virus. Unlike classical forms of the disease, AIDS-associated KS is a multicentric entity that frequently involves lymph nodes and the GI tract. KS may also occur in the lung, commonly in the setting of extensive mucocutaneous disease and very rarely as an isolated event. The exact incidence of intrathoracic KS in patients with AIDS is unknown. Before the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), pulmonary KS had been reported in approximately 10% of patients with AIDS, 25% of patients with cutaneous KS, and in roughly 50% of postmortem examinations of patients with AIDS, KS, and respiratory infections. In the HAART era, the incidence of KS has declined precipitously in North America and Europe but not in third world countries where HAART is largely unavailable. Pulmonary KS may cause radiographic infiltrates and respiratory symptoms that mimic a variety of other infectious and neoplastic processes. An aggressive diagnostic evaluation of patients who have this condition is essential because chemotherapy and radiation therapy may provide significant palliation, particularly if used in conjunction with HAART. This review briefly explores the changing epidemiology of KS. The pathology and pathogenesis of KS is also reviewed, along with the clinical and radiographic presentation, diagnosis, and management of pulmonary KS.

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