Types of Leiomyosarcoma
Leiomyosarcoma, or LMS is a rare condition and yet there are a few thousand cases each year all over the world. It is a form of soft tissue cancer and appears specifically in the involuntary muscles. Now, that is a very simplified explanation of it, but it does say one thing in particular – it can appear almost anywhere.
This is because the blood vessels of the body have soft tissue and involuntary muscles. Thus, you can develop LMS in the lining of organs, and anywhere blood vessels appear.
However, even within this definition, LMS also manifests in three specific “types”. They are:
- LMS of the somatic soft tissue
- Cutaneous or Subcutaneous LMS
- LMS of a vascular origin
All of this sounds very confusing, but it is actually very simple. Let’s just look at each type to understand them a bit more and help you recognize what type you may have been recently diagnosed with.
Somatic Soft Tissue LMS
The words “somatic soft tissue” are another way of describing the body’s connective tissue. This is the most common location for LMS to appear, and so almost everyone diagnosed with LMS may be said to have LMS of the somatic soft tissue. Interestingly enough, the somatic soft tissues hold the body together, but they are not the same tissues as those of the organs (such as the kidneys). Although your liver or kidneys can be called soft tissue, when cancers are due to something malfunctioning in the actual cells that make up your visceral organs, they are not sarcomas. Those are known as carcinomas instead. So, someone who has liver cancer is not, necessarily, someone with LMS.
Cutaneous or Subcutaneous LMS
This is a very rare form of LMS and is when the “pilo erector” muscles in the skin develop the condition. It is often viewed as a dermatological condition in addition to something for an oncologist. Fortunately, for someone diagnosed with the cutaneous version there is an “excellent outcome with rare recurrence” (PracticalDermatology.com, 2013). For the subcutaneous variants, though, treatment can be challenging.
LMS of a Vascular Origin
Noted as truly rare, however, it has occurred. This is when LMS comes directly from a major blood vessel such as the inferior vena cava. Additionally, the pulmonary artery can be involved along with peripheral arteries. There are formal syndromes that arise from some of these variants of LMS due to the symptoms and issues they may cause. For example, Budd-Chiari syndrome is what presents in those with LMS in the inferior vena cava.
Other LMS Variants
Experts indicated that there are also cases of LMS in those with immunocompromised conditions and even LMS of the bone. Additionally, the patient with gastrointestinal tumors once cited as a form of LMS will no longer be identified as such. Instead, this is now known as GISTs or Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors. These are no longer viewed as a form of LMS and though they are tumors of the smooth tissue and muscles of the stomach, they are treated with a unique and initially successful new drug protocol.
The Common Types
In addition to the ways that LMS manifests, there are some forms that seem to be the most common. For example, uterine LMS is known to be the most frequently encountered type. However, the trunk of the body and the arms and legs are also frequently where LMS appears, as well. (Macmillan.org, 2015)
Regardless of the type, it is important to remember that it must be dealt with as soon as possible. Whether discovered during a health exam or because symptoms appeared, the best outcome is when the tissue is removed, “Surgically with wide margins, early, while small and before it spreads.” No matter what type of LMS, the best treatment is to act quickly and aggressively.
Macmillan.org. Leiomyosarcoma. 2015. http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Cancertypes/Softtissuesarcomas/Typesofsofttissuesarcomas/Leiomyosarcoma.aspx#DynamicJumpMenuManager_6_Anchor_3
PracticalDermatology.org. Cutaneous Superficial Leiomyosarcoma. 2013. http://practicaldermatology.com/2013/09/cutaneous-superficial-leiomyosarcoma-a-treatment-conundrum/