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Could I have Kaposi's Sarcoma or could it just be cherry angiomas?
Dec 24, 2001

I realize I am extremely paranoid and afraid to be tested for HIV. I have been happily married for 5 years and have always been in monogamous long term relationships, but not always having practiced safe sex. My husband and I both spend a lot of time in the sun and tanning beds, although we do know this is not good for our skin. We do have some sun spots and occasional blemishes. I just noticed a tiny bright red, almost magenta, colored spot on my left cheek. My husband had a similar spot on his chest. Could these spots be due to sun exposure? Could they just be cherry angiomas? I don't know much about either the angiomas or KS but they seem to look so similar in pictures to me. Neither my husband nor I have any spots on our feet or any bruising at all which is something I saw listed as symptoms of KS. I know I should just go get tested to end all my worrying but I'm too scared.

Response from Dr. Dezube

I'm taking the liberty of reposting a response from Sep 16, 2001 addressing the many queries asking "Is it KS?". This really applies to you and YES, you should be tested!

In the past months or so, I have receive about 30 queries which describe pigmented lesions, stretch marks, pimples and so on and so on. Some describe red lesions, others purple or brown lesions, and others lesions that either do or do not blanch (turn white). Some of the queries are from HIV + folks, some from HIV - folks. They all ask the same question. What do I think? Is it cancer? Is it KS?

Basically there is no way to know whether a lesion is KS or not without a biopsy. KS is a disease which is really diagnosed by a pathologist looking at a biopsy specimen under the microscope. If you go to a clinician who sees alot of KS, (s)he can certainly give you a presumptive diagnosis. There are however many, many different skin conditions which can cause lesions. KS is unlikely in HIV negative folks, though it can occur.

If you really are concerned that you have KS (and I'm referring to all thirty of you who have written to me), then first get HIV tested. You need to know. If you are HIV negative, then mostly likely you do not have KS. If you are HIV positive and have a pigmented lesion, then by all means get this checked out. Most KS lesions can be readily dealt with. There is no reason to agonize about this. The sooner you get seen, the sooner it can be taken care of.

So many of you query this site when it comes to lesions because of fear of the unknown, fear of seeking medical care, and so on. I urge all of you to get that lesion evaluated if it's driving you crazy. Don't lose any more sleep over it.

Best of Luck. BD.

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