Fibroids and Cancer: Are Uterine Fibroids Malignant?
Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors forming in the uterus's smooth muscle tissue. These growths, also known as leiomyomas, are relatively common in women of reproductive age. While the root cause of uterine fibroids is unknown, hormonal imbalances and genetic factors are believed to play a role in their development.
Although uterine fibroids are generally benign, meaning they are not cancerous, in rare cases, they can become malignant. Malignant fibroids, known as leiomyosarcomas, are a more aggressive and dangerous condition. However, it is important to note that less than one in 1,000 uterine fibroids are malignant, making this occurrence quite rare.
What are Leiomyosarcomas?
Leiomyosarcomas are highly aggressive types of soft tissue sarcomas, accounting for approximately 1% of all cancer diagnoses. These tumors arise from smooth muscle cells and can occur throughout the body. Leiomyosarcomas are classified into three distinct subtypes based on their anatomical location: cutaneous or subcutaneous LMS, somatic soft tissue LMS, and vascular LMS.
- Cutaneous or subcutaneous LMS: Leiomyosarcomas that develop within or beneath the skin. These tumors typically present as firm, painless nodules or masses on the skin's surface. Cutaneous LMS is relatively rare compared to other subtypes but can occur in adults and children.
- Somatic soft tissue LMS: These tumors originate in deep soft tissues, such as muscles, tendons, or connective tissues. Somatic soft tissue LMS can occur in various body parts, including the limbs, trunk, abdomen, and retroperitoneum.
- Vascular LMS: Also known as angioleiomyosarcoma, vascular leiomyosarcomas arise from the blood vessels and can affect the skin and deeper tissues.
Diagnosing leiomyosarcomas requires a combination of imaging studies, such as MRI or CT scans, and a biopsy to analyze the tissue under a microscope. Treatment options for leiomyosarcomas typically involve surgery to excise the tumor, followed by radiation therapy to target any remaining cancer cells.
Due to their aggressive nature, leiomyosarcomas can have a poor prognosis, with a relatively high risk of recurrence and metastasis. However, advances in treatment and ongoing research offer hope for improved outcomes in the future.
The symptoms of leiomyosarcoma tumors include the following:
- Abdominal pain: One of the common symptoms of leiomyosarcoma is persistent abdominal pain. This pain may be localized or generalized and can vary in intensity.
- Abdominal mass: In some cases, a palpable mass may be felt in the abdomen. This may indicate the presence of a leiomyosarcoma tumor.
- Gastrointestinal bleeding: Leiomyosarcoma can cause gastrointestinal bleeding, resulting in blood in the stool or black, tarry stools.
- Weight loss: Unintended weight loss might be an indication of leiomyosarcoma. This weight loss may occur due to loss of appetite or difficulty eating.
- Urinary symptoms: Leiomyosarcoma tumors located in the pelvis may compress the bladder or ureters, leading to urinary symptoms. These can include frequent urination, urgency, and difficulty emptying the bladder completely.
- Fatigue: Fatigue is a common symptom of many cancers, including leiomyosarcoma. The tumor can cause a combination of physical and emotional fatigue, making it difficult for the patient to carry out their usual activities.
It is important to note that these tumor's size and positioning affect the symptoms. If you experience any persistent or concerning symptoms, it is recommended that you consult with a healthcare professional for further evaluation and diagnosis.
Houston Fibroids: Effective, Minimally Invasive Fibroid Treatment
Don't let symptomatic uterine fibroids hold you back any longer. Houston Fibroids offers a proven, non-surgical treatment that can help you feel better and get back to enjoying life. Schedule your evaluation today and take the first step towards a happier, healthier you.