Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology
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Sarcoma - Kaposi

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 6/2013
Risk Factors and Prevention

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about what factors increase the chance of developing this type of cancer. To see other pages in this guide, use the colored boxes on the right side of your screen, or click “Next” at the bottom.

A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing cancer. Although risk factors often influence the development of cancer, most do not directly cause cancer. Some people with several risk factors never develop cancer, while others with no known risk factors do. However, knowing your risk factors and talking about them with your doctor may help you make more informed lifestyle and health care choices.

The following factors can raise a person’s risk of developing Kaposi sarcoma:

Ethnicity. People of Jewish or Mediterranean descent, as well as equatorial Africans, have a higher risk of developing Kaposi sarcoma.

Gender. Men have a higher risk of developing Kaposi sarcoma than women.

Human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8). This virus may cause Kaposi sarcoma to develop. It is also called the Kaposi sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV). Most people infected with HHV-8 do not get Kaposi sarcoma; the cancer appears most often when a person with HHV-8 also has a lowered immune system.

Immune deficiency. People with HIV/AIDS and people whose immune systems are suppressed following organ transplantation have a higher risk of developing Kaposi sarcoma.

Sexual activity. Homosexual men have a higher risk of infection with HHV-8, as well as HIV. Learn more about HIV/AIDS-related cancer.

Research continues to look into what factors cause this type of cancer and what people can do to lower their personal risk. While there is no proven way to completely prevent Kaposi sarcoma, a person can significantly reduce his or her risk by avoiding the known risk factors for HIV/AIDS infection, especially by avoiding risky sexual practices, such as having unprotected sex, and using intravenous (IV) needles that have been used by someone else. Talk with your doctor if you have concerns about your personal risk of developing this type of cancer.

Choose “Next” (below, right) to continue reading this guide to learn about what symptoms this type of cancer can cause. Or, use the colored boxes located on the right side of your screen to visit any section.

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