Sarcoma - Kaposi: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 03/2017

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about this type of cancer and how to treat it. Use the menu to see other pages.

Doctors are working to learn more about Kaposi sarcoma, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your doctor about the best diagnostic and treatment options for you.

  • Kinase inhibitors. Kinase inhibitors are a type of targeted therapy that targets specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. Because blood vessels make up a large part of Kaposi sarcoma lesions, researchers are studying treatments focused on stopping angiogenesis, which is the process of making new blood vessels. The goal of anti-angiogenesis therapy is to block the formation of new blood vessels so that the nutrients a tumor needs to grow and spread cannot be delivered. This causes the tumor to "starve."

  • Immunotherapy. Immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, is designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses materials made either by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore immune system function. As with other cancers, research studies are investigating the use of immune checkpoint inhibitors in people with Kaposi sarcoma. If there is an existing immune response against the sarcoma or against HHV8, such drugs could help eliminate Kaposi sarcoma. However, it is not clear what these drugs do to HIV, which is one reason why Kaposi sarcoma can develop in the first place. 

  • New HIV/AIDS treatment. New and better treatments for HIV/AIDS mean that fewer people are developing Kaposi sarcoma. Improved HIV/AIDS treatments in the future may further reduce the risk of Kaposi sarcoma.

  • Combination chemotherapy. Combination chemotherapy uses more than 1 drug (given together) to treat Kaposi sarcoma. In addition to more than 1 type of chemotherapy, researchers are also looking at combinations of chemotherapy and antiretroviral drugs, which are normally used to treat people with HIV/AIDS.

  • Virus research. Research is ongoing to learn more about HHV-8 and its link to Kaposi sarcoma.

  • Palliative care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current Kaposi sarcoma treatments to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life.

Looking for More About the Latest Research?

If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding Kaposi sarcoma, explore these related items that take you outside of this guide:

The next section in this guide is Coping with Treatment. It offers some guidance in how to cope with the physical, emotional, and social changes that cancer and its treatment can bring. You may use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.