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Understanding Your Stage of Kaposi Sarcoma

Understanding Your Stage of Kaposi Sarcoma

If you are diagnosed with Kaposi sarcoma (KS), your doctor needs to know the stage of the cancer. The stage of a cancer describes how far the cancer has spread. It also helps determine the best treatment for you. It can be difficult to stage AIDS-related KS because it comes from a disease that itself affects the entire immune system. For this reason, it can be difficult to differentiate which symptoms are due to KS and which symptoms are due to AIDS.

The main staging system for Kaposi’s sarcoma is the AIDS Clinical Trials Group system. This system determines the stage of KS by three factors. Doctors refer to these stages using the letters T, I, and S:

  • T is for the size of the tumor.

  • I is for the health of the immune system. This is measured by the CD4 cell count.

  • S is for the extent of the illness in the body called systemic illness.

Then doctors divide the disease into two subgroups. A 0 stands for low risk of problems, and a 1 stands for a higher risk of problems:

  • T0. KS is confined to the skin and lymph nodes. There is little KS in the mouth. The lesions are flat and are mainly on the roof of the mouth.

  • T1. The tumor is widespread. There may be swelling due to the tumor, many lesions on the mouth, or KS in organs besides the mouth.

  • I0. CD4 cell count is 150 or more cells per cubic millimeter.

  • I1. CD4 cell count is lower than 150 cells per cubic millimeter.

  • S0. No history of opportunistic infections or fungal infection of the mouth called thrush. No unexplained fever, night sweats, unexpected weight loss of more than 10 percent, or persistent diarrhea. You have the ability to get up and take care of yourself.

  • S1. Systemic illness is present. A history of opportunistic infections or thrush. Other HIV-related disease, such as lymphoma. Your ability to complete daily tasks and take care of yourself is limited.


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