What Is Leiomyosarcoma?
Leiomyosarcoma is a malignant (cancerous) tumor derived from smooth muscle cells. Otherwise known as LMS, leiomyosarcoma tumors are considered rare and often difficult to treat. The prognosis is poor, and survival rates are among the lowest out of all soft tissue sarcomas.
Leiomyosarcoma (LMS) is one form of a very rare and aggressive cancer called ‘sarcoma,’ which is a cancer of the connective or supportive tissues of the body. These tissues can be found in bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, and blood vessels. Among uterine cancer patients, uterine leiomyosarcomas (ULMS) account for roughly one percent of patients with uterine cancer. It is worth noting that leiomyosarcoma can arise from other gynecological primary sites.
Leiomyosarcomas can be quite unpredictable. In some patients, they can remain dormant for long periods of time only to recur after a few years. Leiomyosarcoma is considered a resistant cancer, which means it generally doesn’t respond to chemotherapy or radiation. The best reported outcomes occur when the tumors can be surgically removed with wide margins in an early stage, while small and still in their original place (when malignant cells are present as a tumor but have not yet metastasized beyond the basement membrane of where the tumor was first discovered).
Uterine leiomyosarcoma is most common among women between the ages of 40 and 60 years of age.
Some of the most frequent presenting symptoms include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding (amount of bleeding can vary from spotting to menorrhagia (abnormal heavy bleeding during menstruation)
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
Less common symptoms can include:
- Weight loss
In a pelvic exam, the uterus is often enlarged and in some cases, part of the tumor can prolapse through the cervical os (the opening of the cervix) into the vaginal canal. Diagnosis of ULMS is generally not made prior to surgery, so many patients see a physician with advanced disease.