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  • Leiomyosarcoma

    Leiomyosarcoma most commonly develops within the soft tissues of the body.

    For women who want to someday bare children, the implications of a malignant uterine tumor can be devastating, as are all other cancers.

    This rare type of cancer usually results from a leiomyoma that has degenerated from a benign tumor to a malignant mass.

    Soft tissues compose the following body parts:

    • The Smooth Muscles: A tissue type that located in arteries and veins, the uterus, the bladder, the iris, the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, and the ciliary muscle).
    • The Uterus
    • Abdomen
    • Skin
    • Pelvis

    Sarcomas are cancers that develop in the supportive or connective tissues of the body; less than 1% of cancers are leiomyomas. The prefix “Leiomyo” means “of the smooth muscle” and suffix means “malignant neoplasm of mesenchyme” or connective tissue therefore, Leiomyosarcoma means “malignant tumor of the smooth muscle.”

    This particular type of cancer has also been discovered in the iliac vein. A 55-year old patient who complained of abdominal pain was found to have a mass growing in the region near her iliac vein (a type of vein located in the pelvis) on the left side of the body, upon abdominal ultrasound. A surgical resection of the vein was performed, wherein the presence of a leiomyosarcoma was confirmed.

    Risk Factors

    Exposure to certain chemicals can trigger the growth of leiomyosarcoma cells. The chemicals include vinyl chloride, which is used for making plastics, some types of herbicides (weed killers) and dioxins. People diagnosed with this cancer in particular are usually aged 50 and over.

    Leiomyosarcoma is a cancer that can develop due to environmental factors; this means that reoccurrence is a risk. Cancer can find its way to different parts of the body three different ways; tissue, lymph system and blood, and therefore treatment has its many obstacles and advantages, all the same.

    Signs and Symptoms

    Typically, patients with Leiomyosarcoma are absent of symptoms while in the early stages. Diagnosis usually occurs after symptoms have presented, which may include; a lump or swelling in the area of growth, abdominal discomfort, or bloatedness. In women who’ve experienced menopause, bleeding from the vagina is possible. In women who’ve not hit menopause may experience a shift in their menstrual cycle.


    Leiomyosarcomas are staged from “Stage 1A” to “Stage 4.” At its lowest stage Leiomyosarcoma can exist near the surface of the body or deep in the body and can be less than 5cm or 2 inches. Stage 1A does not show presence in the lymph nodes and other parts of the body. Stage 4, means that the tumor has in fact spread to the lymph nodes in one particular area, as well as other parts of the body; this is the highest stage.

    “Grading” is also a part of the diagnosis process and refers to the appearance of cancer cells under a microscope. The correlation between the growth rate of the cancer cells and their grade is as follows: a low grade dictates that the particular group of cancer cells is less likely to spread and have a lower growth rate. The higher the grade is, the more abnormal the cells look under a magnified lens and the more likely they are to spread and a higher rate of growth.


    Your treatment options may depend upon what stage your cancer is. The chances of recovery can always be affected by certain factors, such as; the stage of the cancer, type and size of the tumor, the overall health of the patient, whether or not the cancer is reoccurring or newly diagnosed.

    Chemotherapy is a treatment option, but has its side effects such as: fatigue, nausea and the most well-known; hair loss. Another traditional form of treatment includes removal by surgery which is followed by radiotherapy.

    A sarcoma oncologist may be able to assist you in your journey. A sarcoma oncologist is a specialist with particular interest in sarcomas who should see no less than 100 sarcoma patients per year. If a sarcoma oncologist is not located near you, telephone consultations are possible.

    Cancer can be an emotional, physical and financial challenged for anyone who is diagnosed with it. No matter how severe your cancer is or whether the challenge is life long or for a few years; support is the key to maintaining a positive outlook and getting through a very significant and difficult part of life.