Soft Tissue Leiomyosarcoma
Are you or a loved one facing a soft tissue leiomyosarcoma diagnosis?
If so, you are probably looking for information and answers to your questions about the disease.
Of course, you should talk to your doctor about your concerns, but you can consider this an introductory guide to soft tissue leiomyosarcoma.
This guide includes information about the disease itself, as well as an overview of treatment options and a reminder about avenues of legal recourse if you believe your medical care has been inadequate or even harmful.
What Is Soft Tissue Leiomyosarcoma?
Leiomyosarcoma is a very rare and particularly aggressive form of a type of cancer called sarcoma. Sarcoma is a cancer of the supportive and connective tissues of the body, such as bone, cartilage, fat, muscle and blood vessels.
The word sarcoma itself comes from the Greek, meaning fleshy growth.
Some of your tissues are soft tissues, including muscle, fat, blood vessels, nerves, tendons and the lining of your joints. Soft tissue leiomyosarcoma, then, is leiomyosarcoma of one of these areas, although it mostly occurs in the abdomen and in the arms and legs.
What Are the Signs of Soft Tissue Leiomyosarcoma?
According to the American Cancer Society, if you are experiencing any or some of the following symptoms, you should meet with your doctor.
The following symptoms are often indicative of a soft tissue sarcoma:
- A new lump, or a lump that is growing anywhere on your body
- Worsening abdominal pain
- Blood in your stool or vomit
- Black or tarry stools (blood turns black as it is digested, when can make your stools black and sticky)
More than half of soft tissue sarcomas begin in the arms or legs. Another 20 percent or so begin in the abdomen. Around 10 percent begin outside of the chest or abdomen, and another 10 percent in the head and neck area.
Please remember that it is possible, even likely, that many of these symptoms are the result of something other than soft tissue leiomyosarcoma. However, you should meet with your doctor regardless.
What Is My Prognosis?
Survival rates vary, but it should be noted that leiomyosarcoma is an extremely aggressive form of cancer that is difficult to treat. In five separate studies conducted of leiomyosarcoma patients, between 77 and 93 percent of the patients ultimately died from the disease.
However, if the cancer is found early and treated properly, leiomyosarcoma patients have good odds of an extended lifespan and a better quality of life.
What Are the Treatment Options?
The only treatment that has proven successful with soft tissue leiomyosarcoma is surgery. The ideal surgery has a wide surgical margin that can reduce the risk that tumors will reappear locally.
Because of the sizes and locations of the some tumors, it is sometimes impossible for surgeons to remove all that they would like to. In these cases, doctors might recommend chemotherapy and/or radiation in addition to surgery, in order to shrink or eliminate what remains.
In addition, chemotherapy is sometimes used prior to surgery to shrink tumors that would otherwise be impossible to remove.
It is important that you discuss your treatment plan with your doctor so that you are aware of the side effects of radiation and particularly, chemotherapy. The side effects of chemotherapy can be quite severe.