I am proud to say that I have all my own teeth at the age of 65. While that may not sound unusual to some people, everyone in my family who is my age or older wears dentures. I always tell people that that flossing is the key to good dental health. I have arthritis in my hands, but I don't let it keep me from flossing every day. My trick is to use those little "flossers" you can buy at the drug store. They have plastic handles floss stretched out on top of the handle. These make flossing easier on days when my arthritis is acting up. I started this blog to let other people know that they can keep their teeth healthy into old age when they take care of them. If you have hand pain, find ways to make flossing easier, like I did.
Kaposi's sarcoma is a type of oral cancer that is usually only seen in people who have compromised immune systems. It can sometimes develop after transplant surgery, but usually, it's associated with HIV infection. If you have HIV, you need to be aware of this condition since you may develop it. Here's what you need to know about this rare cancer.
What causes Kaposi's sarcoma?
Kaposi's sarcoma is caused by a type of herpes virus called HHV-8. This virus is common and is related to the herpes viruses that cause cold sores and genital sores. In most people, HHV-8 is harmless and causes no symptoms, but in people with weakened immune systems, the virus can cause Kaposi's sarcoma.
How does a virus cause cancer? Scientists aren't completely sure yet, but they think that the virus alters the genes in your cells. When these genes are altered, the cells reproduce faster than they should and form tumors.
How do you know that you have it?
Kaposi's sarcoma causes visible symptoms, and if you notice them, you need to see your dentist right away. You may notice small lesions inside your mouth when you are brushing or flossing your teeth. These lesions can vary widely in appearance, ranging in color from red to purple to brown. They can be flat or they can be raised, and sometimes they can even be bumpy. You may find these lesions on the roof of your mouth, on your tongue, or on your gums.
These lesions don't usually hurt, so you won't know that they're there if you don't see them. If the lesions develop in an out of the way place, you might not find out they're there until your next dental check-up. When you see your dentist for a check-up, they do a lot more than just clean your teeth and look for cavities. They also check your mouth for signs of cancer.
How common is it?
Kaposi's sarcoma is very rare in the general population, but it's much more common among people who have HIV or AIDS. Still, it's rare, and only between 1% and 2% of people with the virus will develop Kaposi's sarcoma. If you are already taking antiretroviral therapy then you are at less risk than someone who is infected but not being treated.
This type of cancer is much more common in black people than in white people. Gender also plays a role: men are much more likely to get it than women are.
Can it be treated?
Kaposi's sarcoma can be treated in a variety of ways, but it can't be completely cured.
The first treatment is usually antiretroviral therapy. Antiretrovirals work by suppressing the HIV virus. When the HIV virus is suppressed, your immune system becomes more effective. This won't cure kaposi's sarcoma, but it will keep it from growing as quickly as it would without antiretrovials.
Radiation therapy can also be used, but is a temporary solution. Your lesions will disappear after the treatment, but they will usually grow back within a few months. Chemotherapy can also be used to treat kaposi's sarcoma, but the lesions will grow back as quickly as they do following radiation therapy.
Kaposi's sarcoma is a rare type of oral cancer that is usually found in people who are infected with HIV. If you are HIV-positive, you need to be aware of your risk of developing Kaposi's sarcoma. Check the inside of your mouth when you clean your teeth, and if you notice any strange lesions, make an appointment with your dentist or at a site like http://www.nwidentist.com/. Your dentist will also check your mouth for lesions during your regular check-ups.