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Off-White’s Virgil Abloh Dies from Cardiac Angiosarcoma at 41

Off-White’s Virgil Abloh Dies from Cardiac Angiosarcoma at 41

The world just lost a giant in the fashion industry with the news that Virgil Abloh passed away due to a very rare form of cancer at the age of 41. Abloh was the menswear designer for Louis Vuitton and founder and CEO of streetwear label Off-White.

For the past two years, Virgil Abloh had been dealing privately with cardiac angiosarcoma, a disease that was first identified in 1934. Because of its rarity, it was overlooked as just an initial diagnosis. In a review published in 2014, it was reported that, “Complete or partial surgical resection is still the best option for palliation, with little hope for cure.” Simply put, the outlook for an angiosarcoma is bleak with surgical removal of the cancerous tissue or organ as the best course of action.

Extremely Rare Cancer

Angiosarcomas are uncommon malignant neoplasms, a form of cancer, that most commonly occur in the skin, breast, liver, spleen, and deep tissue. Almost 50% of angiosarcomas occur in the head and neck. Being a very aggressive form of cancer, they have a high rate of local recurrence and systemic metastases. This means the cancer is very likely to spread and may reoccur even if surgically removed.

Angiosarcoma is one of the types of liver cancer that is extremely rare. The cancer begins forming in the blood vessels of the liver and lymph vessels.

Various parameters, including the primary site, and grade of the tumor, can indicate a poor prognosis. For example, angiosarcoma in the heart can be impossible to remove. Treatment of angiosarcoma in other parts of the body may still be possible. Surgery is the primary method of treatment, preferably together with chemotherapy and radiation.

Generally, angiosarcoma is already a rare type of cancer that starts in the lining of blood or lymph vessels. It can be found anywhere on the body, but it usually shows on the skin of the head or neck, especially the scalp and face. It may also form in the skin of a breast or the deep tissue of the liver or heart.

Symptoms of Angiosarcoma

Symptoms of angiosarcoma depend on where the cancer is located. Generally, the most common signs when the cancer is in the skin include:

  • A purple area that looks like a bruise
  • A sore that doesn’t get better and might continue to grow
  • An area that bleeds when bumped or scratched
  • A soft lump that you can feel or see

If the angiosarcoma is in deep tissue, like the liver or heart — as was the case with Virgil Abloh — symptoms are less obvious. Pain will manifest itself, and as the cancer advances, a doctor may be able to feel a growth. Other signs depend on where the cancer is.

Causes of the Cancer

Most cases of angiosarcoma find that the cause is unknown. However, there are some things that can make one more likely to get it. These include:

  • Treatment with radiation therapy
  • Lymphedema, a swelling caused by damage to lymph vessels
  • Exposure to some chemicals, including arsenic, vinyl chloride, and thorium dioxide
  • Pre-existing lesions

What Is the Treatment for Cardiac Angiosarcoma?

The prognosis for primary cardiac angiosarcoma is poor, with a mean survival of around one and half to four months without surgery.

At present, removing the cancerous tissue or organ seems to provide the best chance for prolonging survival.

Virgil Abloh founded Off-White in 2012 and made history in 2018 as Louis Vuitton’s first Black artistic director. His collaborations with Kanye West and Nike have led to very lucrative and extremely desirable sneakers. His Nike redesigns, in particular, are sought after by collectors and sneakerheads for breathing new life into designs from the expansive Nike catalogue.

Learn more about Cancer here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

What Is Angiosarcoma? https://www.webmd.com/cancer/what-is-angiosarcoma, Accessed November 29, 2021

Primary cardiac angiosarcoma – a review, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3907509/, Accessed November 29, 2021

Primary cardiac angiosarcoma, https://www.hindawi.com/journals/sarcoma/2006/039130/, Accessed November 29, 2021

A Guide to the Different Types of Liver Cancer, https://hellodoctor.com.ph/cancer/liver-cancer/types-of-liver-cancer/,  Accessed November 29, 2021

Virgil Abloh, artistic director for Louis Vuitton and Off-White founder, dies of cancer at 41, https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/virgil-abloh-death/, Accessed November 29, 2021

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Written by Jason Inocencio Updated Dec 03, 2021
Fact Checked by Vincent Sales