Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Kaposi’s sarcoma/Paget’s disease

What is Kaposi’s sarcoma?

Kaposi’s sarcoma is a skin cancer that starts in the tissues under the skin. Kaposi’s sarcoma comes in several forms. Some are slow growing, and others are more aggressive and faster spreading. The slow-growing forms usually start as a purple or dark-brown, flat or raised, area on the lower leg. The more aggressive forms of Kaposi’s sarcoma start as a pink, red or purple, round or oval, spot anywhere on the body, including internally. The tumors are usually not painful, but can sometimes cause swelling of the lower legs.

Who is at risk for Kaposi’s sarcoma?

  • Classic Kaposi’s sarcoma – a slower-growing form of the disease, is more common in older people, especially those of European, Jewish or Italian descent.

  • African Kaposi’s sarcoma – can be slow-growing or more aggressive, and often affects children and young men in African nations near the equator. 

  • Treatment-related Kaposi’s sarcoma – occurs in people receiving immune-suppressing drugs, such as those administered after organ transplants. 

  • Epidemic Kaposi’s sarcoma – an aggressive form of the disease, occurs more often in people with AIDS.

What is Paget’s disease?

Paget’s disease is a rare form of skin cancer that begins in the glands in or under the skin. Characterized by inflamed, red patches on the skin, Paget’s disease often originates from breast duct cancer. The patches can occur in sweat glands, in the groin or near the anus.

Because Paget’s disease often originates from breast duct cancer, the eczema-like cancer usually appears around the nipple. Paget’s disease also is considered a rare form of breast cancer.