Dermis is the medical term for your skin. Specifically, it refers to the thick layer of tissue below the epidermis (the outer layer of your skin) that forms the true skin, and contains your capillaries, nerve endings, sweat glands, hair follicles and various other structures.
It is possible for leiomyosarcoma, an extremely rare and aggressive form of sarcoma, to arise within the dermis. This is referred to as cutaneous leiomyosarcoma.
Overview of Cutaneous Leiomyosarcoma
One of the defining features of cutaneous leiomyosarcoma is that it affects men much more than women, at nearly a two to one ratio. It typically appears in patients 40 to 60 years of age.
According to Piere and Marie Curie University in Paris, cutaneous leiomyosarcoma is believed to derive from the precursor cells which are associated with the arrector muscles of hair, the smooth muscle surrounding sweat glands, or the genital dartos muscle.
Unlike some other forms of leiomyosarcoma, cutaneous leiomyosarcoma typically consists of small lesions of around one to two centimeters when it is first diagnosed, and its prognosis is generally very good. Recurrence is rare.
In some cases, however, tumors develop within subcutaneous tissue, typically arising from small or microscopic vessels. Rather than be considered a form of cutaneous leiomyosarcoma, these tumors should be looked at as the more serious soft tissue leiomyosarcoma.
This is because when lesions are confined to the dermis, metastasis typically does not occur. Metastasis is the development of secondary malignant growths at a distance from a primary site of cancer. In other words, cutaneous leiomyosarcoma tends not to spread, while soft tissue leiomyosarcoma does.
This difference generally necessitates a different and considerably more intensive treatment plan.
How Do I Identify Cutaneous Leiomyosarcoma?
Researchers at Pierre and Marie Curie University report patients with cutaneous leiomyosarcoma exhibit pink, purple, brown or red discoloration, crusting or ulceration in the affected area of the epidermis. Close to 95 percent of patients report pain in association with these lesions, although some are completely asymptomatic. Others report itching, burning or bleeding.
How Cutaneous Leiomyosarcoma Is Treated
You should discuss a treatment plan with your doctor. However, most cutaneous leiomyosarcomas can be removed via wide excision, generally with two to five centimeter surgical margins. Some dermatologists, however, will recommend more conservative surgical margins due to the low recurrence and low metastatic potential of cutaneous leiomyosarcoma.
If you have a more serious soft tissue leiomyosarcoma, your doctors might recommend surgery as well as chemotherapy and/or radiation.
Could Cutaneous Leiomyosarcoma Be a Sign of More Troubling Leiomyosarcomas?
Of course this is possible. Around 30 to 40 percent of cutaneous leiomyosarcomas are accompanied by more serious forms of leiomyosarcoma. Often these sarcomas will be located in the soft tissue below the skin, but they could be located anywhere within your body.
Your doctor will likely advise you to be examined for other types of leiomyosarcoma if you are diagnosed with cutaneous leiomyosarcoma.
Do You Have a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Compared to other leiomyosarcoma patients, cutaneous leiomyosarcoma patients are relatively fortunate, as their disease is curable with a relatively noninvasive surgical procedure and has a low rate of recurrence.
However, if you believe that your doctor missed signs of cutaneous leiomyosarcoma that caused the condition to worsen, failed to check for other forms of leiomyosarcoma as a result of your cutaneous leiomyosarcoma diagnosis, or botched your surgical procedure, you might have a medical malpractice claim.
If you are prescribed any medication in relation to this disease and experienced unadvertised or severe side effects, or you believe you have developed another medical condition as a result of taking this medication, you also might have a medical malpractice claim against your doctor or a tort claim against the manufacturer and/or distributor of the medication.