What Are the Symptoms of Kaposi Sarcoma?

It may take a long time for you to develop and notice symptoms of Kaposi sarcoma (KS). If you have risk factors or think you have KS, see a doctor. The major symptoms of KS are skin lesions, lymphedema, and swelling of the lymph nodes. Unexplained fever or unwanted weight loss can occur as well.

Here is more information about the symptoms of AIDS-related KS.


KS lesions normally start out as flat or slightly raised colored spots on the skin. Sometimes they grow just below the skin and do not have an unusual color. Lesions can grow anywhere on your body. They most often start on the legs, nose, feet, or on parts of the ears, mouth, or sex organs.

Most people with AIDS-related KS have lesions in many places. As the lesions grow, they may turn pink or red. Sometimes lesions can turn blue, purple, or brown. In dark-skinned people, the lesions may be dark brown or black. Lesions do not normally cause pain:

  • Sores in your mouth or throat that bleed. People with AIDS-related KS often develop lesions in the mouth and throat. These lesions usually show up on the roof of the mouth called the palate. They often appear on the gums, voice box (larynx), tonsils, tongue, and windpipe. Lesions on the palate usually cause no symptoms and often go unnoticed. Lesions in the mouth and throat may get sore and even bleed. They may make it hard for you to eat, swallow, and breathe.

  • Diarrhea or difficulty having bowel movements. KS lesions can develop in the esophagus, stomach, intestines, or other part of the gastrointestinal tract, sometimes called the GI tract. You may have lesions in your GI tract even though there are none on the surface of your skin. Usually, lesions in the GI tract cause no symptoms. Sometimes, though, they cause pain and bleeding. Lesions in this part of the body may also interfere with food digestion, leading to diarrhea and malnutrition. Rarely, lesions can cause blockages in the GI tract, making it hard to have a bowel movement. Lesions can also damage the wall of the bowel, which may cause intense pain and bleeding.

  • Coughing, wheezing, or breathing problems. Lesions may also grow in your lungs. Lung lesions cause coughing, wheezing, and breathing problems. You may even cough up blood. Breathing problems usually show up during exercise. If the lesions continue to grow, they may eventually cause breathing trouble even when you are resting.


Some people with KS develop severe swelling that blocks the lymph nodes or lymph vessels. This swelling is called lymphedema. It may happen even when no lesions are on the skin. It may result in these symptoms:

  • Swelling in the legs and feet (walking may be painful as a result)

  • Swelling in the genitals or groin

  • Swelling around the eyes

Swelling rarely occurs in the chest and arms.

Swelling of the lymph nodes

Other parts of the body may be affected before skin lesions show up. A doctor may think you have the disease if you have been exposed to risk factors for KS and you have swollen lymph nodes. However, many other conditions, including other cancers and viral infections, can cause your lymph nodes to swell. It is important that you visit your doctor if you have swollen lymph nodes.