Leiomyosarcoma Cancer and Life Expectancy
As is the case with almost any sort of cancer, the sooner the disease is recognized and treated, the better the outcome. Of course, because Leiomyosarcoma (LMS) does not necessarily manifest any symptoms until it has progressed, it then becomes a matter of the most aggressive treatments possible once it has been diagnosed.
As one group of experts on the condition indicates, “It depends on the location and size of the tumor and its type and extent of spread. Some patients with low grade tumors or with tumors that have not spread beyond Stage I have had excellent prognoses.” (LMSDR.org, 2015)
Treatment Plays a Key Role
However, the issue of treatment also comes into the equation as well. Those who do their research and work with an oncological surgeon, and one with a subspecialty in their particular type of LMS, will usually receive the kind of aggressive treatment necessary. Of course, even with this sort of specialization, the stage or severity of the LMS may still present challenges to overcoming the disease.
Surgical excision along with radiation therapy (and chemotherapy in some cases) is the preferred treatment, but it must be aggressive. General surgeons are not often recommended as they are unused to the wider margins required for complete removal of localized tumors, or metastatic tumors. Because of this, they may leave what are known as “positive margins” in which tumor cells remain at the edges of the treated organ or tissue.
Even with options for chemotherapy or radiation therapy, typical LMS is too aggressive and not responsive to such treatments alone. Thus, there is often a higher life expectancy or better prognosis for those who are diagnosed early, treated effectively with surgical removal of a local tumor and adjuvant therapies, and who follow up with regular checkups.
High-grade tumors, on the other hand, and those that have metastasized in other parts of the body tend to lead to “less favorable survival rates”. In one study, the factors that appeared in the “worse prognosis” were that patients were over the age of 62, that their tumor was larger than 4cm in size, that tumor necrosis had occurred to at least one tumor, and that vascular invasion was involved. (SarcomaHelp.org, 2015)
This is a description of rather advanced LMS and a very general expectancy is that patients with LMS diagnoses (of the soft tissue variety and either local or systemic tumors) range from 50% in the three-year survival rate to 64% in the five-year survival rate. After treatment you must follow through with scans every three months until a physician orders otherwise. There may never be any further instances of LMS, there can be reoccurrence, and there can be metastasis.
You Do Have Options
Clearly, the aggressive nature of a single, local tumor or a systemic spread of the disease makes it one of the toughest conditions to treat effectively. There are many advanced options in treatment, and more appearing every year. The key to the best outcome or prognosis is to get an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible. A diagnosis will properly grade the condition and stage any tumors present. This allows for the most aggressive treatment possible.
Keep in mind that it is rare for surgery to be the only action taken. There are surgical and ablative technologies and a multi-modality treatment is often going to lead to the longest life expectancy afterward. Should you encounter a physician suggesting only chemotherapy and radiation for local tumors, it is best to get a second opinion. The best outcome is going to come from the multi-modality approach. With advanced and metastatic conditions, you will rely on a range of treatments, with chemotherapy as the most likely approach.
There are many ongoing trials, and not many long-term studies of the life expectancies of patients receiving the latest treatments. The good news is that there are professionals and medical teams developing expertise and providing patients with higher and higher life expectancies afterward.
SarcomaHelp.org. Leiomyosarcoma Cancer. 2015. http://sarcomahelp.org/leiomyosarcoma.html#tpm1_1