Leiomyosarcoma Treatment – Chemotherapy
If you have been diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma, your doctor might have recommended chemotherapy as part of your course of treatment.
It is important for you to know that chemotherapy alone (or even chemotherapy in combination with radiation) is not considered an effective means of combating leiomyosarcoma. Surgery – typically with a wide surgical margin to prevent local recurrence – is the only form of treatment with substantial results.
Because leiomyosarcoma is a particularly aggressive cancer, however, doctors sometimes recommend chemotherapy and/or radiation in addition to surgery.
Sometimes chemotherapy is recommended after surgery if there was not enough room for a wide surgical margin, if tumors reappear locally or if some tumors were missed during the procedure.
How Does Chemotherapy Work?
Chemotherapy uses drugs called cytostatics, which are designed to prevent cancer cells from dividing uncontrollably. There are four different types of chemotherapy:
- Curative chemotherapy aims to remove all cancer cells from the body and achieve a permanent cure. As mentioned, this is generally not possible with leiomyosarcoma.
- Adjuvant chemotherapy is aimed at cancer cells that might remain in the body after surgery, but were not detected, with the goal of preventing a future recurrence. It is possible your doctor will recommend chemotherapy after surgery, if surgery is performed.
- Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is similar to adjuvant chemotherapy, but is done before surgery, because some tumors are too large to be removed without being shrunk first. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is sometimes performed to prevent a surgery from becoming too invasive.
- Pallatiative chemotherapy is used when it is not possible to stop a cancer. It is intended to relieve symptoms and slow the growth of the cancer.
Chemotherapy for Leiomyosarcoma
According to the Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative, chemotherapy treatments for leiomyosarcoma typically use the following drugs:
- Taxotere (docetaxel)
There are currently more drugs in development specifically for leiomyosarcoma chemotherapy treatments, and a few of the drugs have proven quite effective in shrinking tumors pre-surgery. Again, though – chemotherapy alone is not an effective means of treatment to eliminate this cancer.
What Are the Symptoms of Leiomyosarcoma?
- In women who are premenopausal, changes in periods
- In women who are postmenopausal, vaginal bleeding
- Bloating and abdominal discomfort
- Lumps, pain or swelling in any area of the body
Is Chemotherapy My Only Option?
As mentioned, chemotherapy is not the preferred primary treatment for leiomyosarcoma. Ideally, if you are diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma you will receive surgery to remove the tumors, with a wide surgical margin to prevent local recurrence.
As stated above, chemotherapy and/or radiation can be offered before or after surgery as a supplement, or to relieve symptoms when surgery is not possible. However, be sure that you and your doctor have considered all of your options before you proceed with a treatment plan that consists exclusively of chemotherapy.
It should be noted that mortality rates for leiomyosarcoma indicate between 77 and 93 percent of leiomyosarcoma patients ultimately dying of leiomyosarcoma, according to five separate published studies.
Are You the Victim of Medical Malpractice?
Do you believe that your doctor ignored leiomyosarcoma symptoms, leaving it until it was too late to combat effectively? Alternatively, do you think that your surgeon performed inadequately, not removing all the tumors he could have, or failing to leave a wide surgical margin when one was possible? If so, you could have a cause of action for medical malpractice and you should call our office for a free consultation.
If you believe you have suffered serious side effects from your chemotherapy medication, you may also have a claim against your doctor or the pharmaceutical company that manufactures the drug. If you believe this is the case, contact us for a free consultation.
Remember – a lawsuit might not just get you or your loved ones the compensation you deserve for your pain, suffering and potential loss of life – it could also save future leiomyosarcoma patients from the same mistakes.