The precise causes for Leiomyosarcoma, or LMS, are currently unknown. What they do know does not, necessarily, point to any specific cause. However, the most common factors seem to be age (with most people developing LMS being over the age of 50), exposure to radiotherapy (many people previously treated for other forms of cancer with radiotherapy may develop soft tissue cancer), chemical exposure (especially vinyl chloride, dioxins, and a wide range of herbicides, and genetics.
The Causes of Leiomyosarcoma
Additionally, the most common location for LMS is in the uterus, though it can and does appear in any location where soft tissue is found.
There are also studies that have determined a range of “risk factors” that can lead to individuals being at risk for the development of soft tissue sarcomas, and these are taken into consideration where LMS is concerned. In addition to the causes already mentioned above (which are also seen as risk factors), there are increased risks for soft tissue sarcomas in those who use immunosuppressive drugs, who have human immunodeficiency virus, and those with human herpes virus type 8. Those with edematous arms after radical mastectomy are also considered at risk for soft tissue sarcomas, and LMS in particular.
Lastly, some causes of sarcomas, which are believed to also be potential causes for LMS, include any autoimmune diseases, thyroid disorders, hormonal issues relating to estrogen, exposure to cyclophosphamide, people in the post transplant immunosuppression stages, and those whose bodies are in a state of chronic repair (such as those with ulcers, inflammation, etc.)
Risks Leading to Answers
That is a long list of risk factors, but they do yield helpful studies and answers around LMS. However, the precise reason why one person exposed to risk factors develops LMS and another does not, is still being answered. Like many other types of cancer, it can be a matter of chance. After all, any cancer develops from cell damage and the subsequent DNA damages that follow, and nothing can determine whether or not each person has enough antioxidants in their body at the time of exposure to combat cell damage and DNA changes.
Antioxidants are natural compounds that prevent the formation of free radicals in the body. While free radicals are blamed for the signs of aging, they are a lot more dangerous than that. Essentially, they are atoms or groups of atoms’ electrons that form when molecules interact with oxygen. They are often out of balance, and they cause a chain reaction of damage in the body. Antioxidants are, “Molecules which safely interact with free radicals and terminate the chain reaction before vital molecules are damaged,” (Rice.edu, 2015).
So, it is really just a matter of chance whether or not someone does develop cancer or LMS, but as already expressed, it does help to be attentive to risk factors and avoid them if at all possible.
Understanding Cancer and LMS
Perhaps one of the simplest ways for anyone to understand the causes for LMS is to understand the causes for cancer. In other words, if you understand that “all cancers start from one particular cell that mutates” you have the most basic explanation. You can then see how this triggers a chain reaction of damage and further mutation that prevents the cell from growing and functioning as it was intended. (Leiomyosarcom.info, 2015)
Often the cancer itself is named for the cells or tissue that it will grow from. Where LMS is concerned, there are several varieties described based on their specific site and type. For example, uterine LMS or cutaneous LMS described precisely where the cells malfunctioned.
We know there are certain risk factors for the development of LMS, and though it may be impossible for patients to avoid them, the medical field will eventually be able to understand how they develop into the disease. If you have LMS, it is unlikely that you did one thing that triggered it, but were rather exposed to risk factors and that the same processes of cell damage and mutation similar to all cancer then occurred in your soft tissue and involuntary muscles.
Leiomyosarcoma.info. Basic Information. 2015. http://www.leiomyosarcoma.info/basic.htm
Rice.edu. Antioxidants and Free Radicals. 2015. http://www.rice.edu/~jenky/sports/antiox.html