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Non-human immunodeficiency virus-related Kaposi’s sarcoma of the oropharynx: a case report and review of the literature

Erika Crosetti1* and Giovanni Succo2

Author Affiliations

1 ENT Department, Martini Hospital, Turin, Italy

2 ENT Department, S. Luigi Gonzaga Hospital, University of Turin, Turin, Italy

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Journal of Medical Case Reports 2013, 7:293  doi:10.1186/1752-1947-7-293

Published: 31 December 2013



Kaposi’s sarcoma is a malignant, slowly progressing, mesenchymal neoplasm characterized by a proliferation of connective tissue and capillaries. Clinical presentation is usually as nodules and red-purple plaques. This case report not only represents an uncommon presentation of Kaposi’s sarcoma in a non-immunocompromised patient, but also supports the role of viral infection in the pathogenesis of this disease. It provides some interesting information about this rare disease, particularly in patients who are human immunodeficiency virus negative.

Case presentation

A 48-year-old Caucasian man presented with a sensation of a foreign body in his throat, accompanied by stomatolalia. Maxillofacial and neck magnetic resonance imaging confirmed the presence of a voluminous solid mass at the base of his tongue with oropharyngeal space reduction. Histological analysis indicated that the lesion was compatible with ulcerated Kaposi’s sarcoma of the oropharynx. Results of serological tests for human immunodeficiency virus infection were negative as was the result of the human herpesvirus-8 test, but the cytomegalovirus test result was positive.


This case is unusual because the patient had only oropharyngeal localization of disease, without evidence of immunosuppression or the typical background or risk factors suggesting the classic or endemic form of Kaposi’s sarcoma. Isolated cases of Kaposi’s sarcoma with oropharyngeal manifestations not associated with human immunodeficiency virus infection are rare, and only 15 cases have been reported to date. At present, its localization, microscopic and histological characteristics, and patterns of progression are the main tools used for differential diagnosis of Kaposi’s sarcoma from other vascular neoplasms.

HIV infection; Kaposi’s sarcoma; Oropharynx