HIV/AIDS patients are already prone to a range of oral problems including oral candidiasis and periodontal disease. In addition, opportunistic tumors can take hold in the mouth of HIV-positive patients. The two most common are Kaposi’s sarcoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Also known as KS, this is the most common oral tumor in HIV-positive patients. KS is a cancer of the endothelial lining of blood vessels, and it manifests in the mouth as purple but non-painful lesions that can be either flat or raised, and they don’t turn white when you press them. Chemotherapy treatment and HIV treatment with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) may improve the appearance of these lesions. In fact, KS has become less frequent in HIV patients since the widespread use of HAART.
This type of tumor appears in the mouth as a soft mass that can grow rapidly. A biopsy is necessary to confirm the diagnosis, but if non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is confirmed, the standard treatment involves radiation and chemotherapy.
Opportunistic tumors rarely occur in HIV patients until they develop severe immunosuppression. Regular dental visits are important for HIV patients at any stage of illness in order to identify any oral health problems before they become severe.