What you need to know about Leiomyosarcoma

Facts & Stats

Leiomyosarcoma is a type of cancer that mainly affects the muscles, fat and the nerves that protect and border the various organs. Leiomyosarcoma usually starts in the smooth muscles lining organs such as the stomach, intestines and bladder. The condition of Leiomyosarcoma can also be observed in blood vessels, pancreas, liver, skin and uterus. None of these organs can be moved or controlled consciously by a person. While all of these organs can be affected by this form of cancer, the stomach, arms and legs, uterus and small intestines are some of the most frequently affected areas. Leiomyosarcoma is a very rare form of cancer.

Symptoms

Symptoms of Leiomyosarcoma mainly depend on the location and size of the tumor. Some people may exhibit no symptoms at all.

  • Pain
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal Bloating
  • Swelling or lumps under the skin

When LMS develops in the intestines or stomach, it can cause the following symptoms:

  • Stomach pains
  • Vomiting blood
  • Black or dark-colored stools

Leiomyosarcoma in the uterus may lead to the symptoms stated below:

  • Vaginal discharge
  • The need to pee more frequently than usual
  • Vaginal bleeding that has nothing to do with menstrual periods

Stages

Leiomyosarcoma is divided into five main stages starting from 0 to IV. At the initial stages where the tumor is totally benign, the condition is classified under Stage 0. As the stages progress from I to IV, we can see a steady progress in the cancer, with more and more cells getting affected by it. Soon the lymph nodes also start to get affected by this condition. Once the condition reaches Stage IV, the tumor has metastasized and treatment becomes exceedingly complex. The prognosis of the treatment is far better for all cases that range between Stage I and III.

Causes

Doctors are not exactly aware of what leads to Leiomyosarcoma. The condition may happen due to some kind of gene changes which causes the cells exponentially to form tumors. Such changes may happen naturally without any external influence. At other times, genetic material derived from one or both of the parents may lead to such mutations. Most of the people getting affected by LMS are more than 50 years of age. In some cases, LMS may develop after a person has been subjected to radiation due to some other type of cancer. Exposure to some chemicals such as dioxins, vinyl chloride, weed killers, herbicides or arsenic may increase the propensity of Leiomyosarcoma.

Diagnosis

The doctor can carry out several imaging tests and biopsies to make sure that a patient has Leiomyosarcoma. Common imaging tests performed for this condition include X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans and positron emission tomography or PET scans. Ultrasound can also be used in some cases. The doctor may conduct biopsies like core needle biopsy and surgical biopsy to check the presence of cancer. Core needle biopsy is meant for taking smaller samples from numerous sections of a tumor. The surgical biopsy is used for obtaining larger tissue samples. It some cases it is also used for entirely removing small tumors.

Treatment

Surgery is the main form of therapy associated with Leiomyosarcoma. The doctor is going to remove the main tumor as well as some parts of healthy tissue along with it. If the tumor affects the leg or hand, the doctor may want to shrink the size of the tumor using chemotherapy and radiation. Chemotherapy is mainly performed by using a pill or through intravenous methods. Some forms of Leiomyosarcoma affect soft tissues and they can be resolved by targeted drug treatments. The methods of treatment may vary greatly from one patient to another and a host of factors are needed to be considered for choosing the appropriate method.

Prevention

Since the exact causes responsible for Leiomyosarcoma is not known, there is not much one can do to prevent the condition. A person may stay away from the harmful chemicals that may lead to this condition. If there are certain forms of chromosomal abnormalities which may lead to Leiomyosarcoma, a person must seek genetic consultation for minimizing the chances of this form of cancer.