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What to Know About Radiation Therapy for Kaposi Sarcoma

Radiation therapy is one way to treat Kaposi Sarcoma (KS). This treatment is also called radiotherapy. It uses high-energy rays to kill KS cells.

Radiation is a local treatment. That means it affects the cancer cells only in the area treated.

For this treatment, you see a radiation oncologist, a doctor who specializes in the use of radiation to kill cancer cells. This doctor decides how often you need radiation and at what dose. Radiation that comes from a machine outside the body is called external beam radiation.

You may have radiation to treat lesions on your skin or in your mouth. KS lesions on the face or nose can be unsightly. Radiation can remove these lesions without changing your looks. You may also have radiation to control symptoms, such as bleeding, swelling, and pain.

Potential side effects from radiation therapy

Doctors often use small doses of radiation to treat KS. When the treatment is done just in one area of the skin, the side effects are mild.

These are some possible side effects from radiation for KS:

  • Mild skin irritation

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Fatigue  

You may have pain from the lesion. This pain should go away within a few weeks of the completion of radiation therapy. Radiation can also sometimes worsen the symptoms of chemotherapy.