Cancer is complex — there is no routine Kaposi sarcoma, nor is there ever a routine way to treat it.

The OSUCCC – James is a world leader in Kaposi sarcoma treatment, developing some of the very latest advancements in molecular testing and targeting cancer genes – technology that’s available at only a few cancer centers in the country. In fact, our physician experts actually help write the national clinical guidelines for treating specific cancers.  

Our treatment team includes internationally recognized Kaposi sarcoma experts and world-renowned subspecialists, including medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, hematologists, pathologists, sarcoma researchers, genomic experts and more. Working together and across medical disciplines, this super subspecialized team develops individualized, highly targeted treatment plans that specifically target the molecular and biological makeup of your individual cancer. Because of that expertise and understanding of cancer’s complexities and how it acts and reacts differently in each person, the very best outcomes — and the most effective means of treating cancer patients — come from this team approach.

And as one of only a few cancer centers in the country funded by the National Cancer Institute to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials, the OSUCCC – James offers patients access to more clinical trials than nearly any other cancer hospital in the country and to more of the latest, most targeted, most effective treatment options — many that are available nowhere else but at the OSUCCC – James.

There are several types of treatment for Kaposi sarcoma. The OSUCCC – James team of subspecialists determine the best treatment for each patient based on his or her specific, individual Kaposi sarcoma. Patients may receive one treatment or a combination of treatments.

Kaposi Sarcoma Treatment Options

The OSUCCC – James is a leader in offering some of the world’s most advanced, sophisticated treatments for Kaposi sarcoma patients.

Every person’s disease is different, with individually unique genes and molecules driving that disorder. At the OSUCCC – James, our Kaposi sarcoma subspecialists are world-renowned experts who focus solely on sarcoma disorders and who reach across medical disciplines (medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, radiation oncologists, hematologists, pathologists, sarcoma researchers, genomic experts and more) to design the very best treatment plan and therapies to target each patient’s specific cancer.

One or more of the following treatment therapies may be recommended: 

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing.

A patient with Kaposi sarcoma may receive radiation therapy from a specialized sarcoma radiation oncologist before or after a surgery that removes a tumor. Radiation can shrink a tumor to make surgery more successful. Postoperative radiation therapy is used to destroy any remaining cancer cells.

The OSUCCC – James radiation experts are leaders in innovative radiation treatments, and The James is one of the few hospitals in Ohio to offer radiation treatments in the prone position (the patient is lying down).

The OSUCCC – James also offers other leading-edge radiation treatments, including imaging-based radiation therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), stereotactic radiosurgery and using a Varian TrueBeam Linear Accelerator.


Most patients who have Kaposi sarcoma have surgery. Once the cancer is surgically removed, patients may undergo additional radiation or chemotherapy after surgery to kill any cancer cells that may not have been able to be retrieved during surgery. This lowers the risk of the cancer coming back.

Some patients may be eligible for surgery to treat their surface lesions, particularly if they are small.

Surgery may consist of one of the following procedures:

Local Excision

An OSUCCC – James surgeon removes the lesion and some normal tissue around the tumor. The surgery also is called wide local excision.

Electrodesiccation and Curettage

An OSUCCC – James surgeon removes the cancerous lesion using an instrument called a curette. An electric current is used to stop bleeding and destroy any remaining cancer cells.

Cryosurgery or Cryotherapy

An OSUCCC – James Kaposi sarcoma subspecialist uses this treatment to freeze the cancerous lesion and destroy it with small doses of liquid nitrogen.


Chemotherapy drugs stop cancer cell growth by either destroying the cells or stopping them from dividing.

When chemotherapy is given before surgery, it can shrink a Kaposi sarcoma tumor. After surgery, it can lower risk that the sarcoma will return. 

Chemotherapy drugs can be taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, and they may be given over a period of months.

Localized Kaposi sarcoma lesions may be treated with a chemotherapy drug that is injected directly into the lesion, or the drug may be applied topically as a gel. Chemotherapy may also be delivered to lesions by liposomes (microscopic fat particles) carrying a drug such as doxorubicin.

When the drugs enter the bloodstream, they can reach cancer cells throughout the body (called systemic chemotherapy). Combination chemotherapy uses more than one anti-cancer drug.

Chemotherapy treatment usually takes place in an outpatient part of the hospital, at your doctor's office or in your home. Some people may need to stay in the hospital for treatment.


Immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, is a treatment that uses the patient’s immune system to fight cancer. Substances made by the body, or made in a laboratory, can be used to encourage the body’s immune system to activate and attack Kaposi sarcoma cells in the body.

One type of immunotherapeutic treatment used to treat Kaposi sarcoma is interferon alfa.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy is a type of drug treatment designed to target and attack cancer cells, leaving healthy or normal cells unharmed. These drugs often have less severe side effects and are generally better tolerated than chemotherapy drugs.

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Kaposi Cancer Research & Clinical Trials

For cancer patients, clinical trials mean hope. Hope for a cancer-free world and for better, more targeted ways to prevent, detect, treat and cure individual cancers.

Patients can enter clinical trials before, during or after starting their cancer treatment.

The internationally recognized Kaposi sarcoma experts at the OSUCCC – James believe the best way to treat patients and manage their disease successfully is to be at the forefront of delivering the latest, most effective treatments available and by working with nationally and internationally renowned experts to develop the newest and best Kaposi sarcoma treatments and programs.

Currently, these experts are working on a number of preclinical and clinical studies for sarcomas, and the OSUCCC – James, in conjunction with the OSU Wexner Medical Center and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, is one of the most heavily funded sarcoma research centers in the country, per National Institute of Health standards.

The OSUCCC – James has more than 500 open clinical trials at any given time, with some of the world’s latest discoveries available to clinical trial patients right here in Columbus, Ohio. In fact, patients have access to more of this nation’s leading-edge, targeted treatments and cancer clinical trials than at most other hospitals in America.  Additionally, the OSUCCC – James is one of only a few U.S. cancer centers funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to conduct phase I and phase II clinical trials on novel anticancer drugs. These trials go only to centers that demonstrate an exemplary capacity for research and clinical care, the expertise to deliver the latest in treatments and the infrastructure to interpret and track treatment results.

The OSUCCC – James and Ohio State also have nearly 300 cancer research scientists dedicated to understanding what makes each patient’s cancer grow, spread, or reoccur. And because of the OSUCCC – James’ NCI phase I and phase II approvals, these experts can move research discoveries into clinical trials and get them to patients sooner, which can mean improved outcomes, faster responses and fewer side effects.

If you’ve been diagnosed with Kaposi sarcoma, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with a sarcoma specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

460 West 10th Avenue

Columbus, Ohio 43210

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