Kaposi’s sarcoma, a South African perspective: Demographic and pathological features

  • RD Mohanlal
  • S Pather


Background. The incidence of Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) has increased dramatically since the onset of the  AIDS epidemic. Of the estimated 66 200 cases of KS worldwide, 58 800 are considered to have occurred in sub-Saharan Africa.

Objectives. To describe the epidemiology and pathological characteristics of KS at Chris Hani  Baragwanath Academic Hospital (CHBAH), Johannesburg, South Africa.

Methods. A retrospective cross-sectional study design was used. Nine hundred and thirty-eight  histopathology reports of KS diagnosed in 901 patients at CHBAH between 2005 and 2009 were reviewed.  Age, gender, topographic site, CD4 count, HIV status, KS histological stage, findings of human  herpesvirus 8 latency-associated nuclear antigen 1 immunohistochemistry and concomitant pathological findings were recorded.

Results. The male/female ratio was 1.2:1, the mean age 37 years and the median CD4 count 128 cells/ìL. Lower limb skin biopsies accounted for 49.6% of cases. Paediatric, visceral and endemic KS accounted for only limited proportions (1.4%, 1.4% and 1.3% of biopsies, respectively). There were concomitant pathological findings in 4.6% of biopsy specimens, infections and inflammatory dermatoses being the most frequent.

Conclusion. The findings of this study highlight the need for allocation of diagnostic and treatment resources for KS. Documentation of the various demographic aspects of KS will prove to be of historical, clinical and histopathological interest as the long-term outcomes of antiretroviral therapy begin to  emerge.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0256-95749
print ISSN: 2078-5135