Leiomyosarcoma cancer can occur in any of the smooth muscle tissues of the body. In the early stages, leiomyosarcoma is often asymptomatic. Even the more advanced stages of leiomyosarcoma cancer tend to exhibit few specific symptoms apart from a distinct swelling, and possible bleeding and discomfort as the cancerous tumor presses against the surrounding healthy tissue.
Leiomyosarcoma Cancer Prognosis
Survival rates for leiomyosarcoma cancer are generally quite poor. Prognosis depends on the age and general health of the patient, the size and stage of the leiomyosarcoma cancer and if the cancer has spread (metastasized) to other organs of the body. In the case of leiomyosarcoma cancer, the most frequent point of metastasis is the liver.
Where Does Smooth Muscle Leiomyosarcoma Cancer Develop?
Although leiomyosarcoma cancers can develop in any of the smooth muscle tissues, the two most common sites for leiomyosarcoma cancers are:
reproductive organs: The smooth muscles of the uterus in women and the spermatic cord and scrotum in men are the sites in the reproductive system most often affected.
gastrointestinal tract: Leiomyosarcoma cancer can develop anywhere along the gastrointestinal tract, including the stomach, rectum and large and small intestines. Around fifty percent of intestinal leiomyosarcoma cancer cases present in the ileum, the lowest part of the small intestine.
A distinction should be made between leiomyosarcoma cancer of the gastrointestinal tract and a similar, yet, different disease, called gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). Both conditions have certain characteristics in common. GIST, however, is not a smooth muscle cancer. In addition, GIST is treated with drugs that are not used to treat leiomyosarcoma.
Other Smooth Muscle Sites
blood vessels: Arteries, veins and capillaries are all comprised of smooth muscle cells.
lymphatic system: The lymph nodes and rest of the lymphatic system contains smooth muscle cells. A more common disorder for this part of the body is leukemia.
body extremities: These locations include the smooth muscles of the head, neck,shoulders arms, chest, nipples, back, hips, legs, hands, and feet.
skin: Leiomyosarcoma cancer can develop from the smooth muscle pilar (related to hair) structures of the skin that cause “goose-bumps,” or from the tiny blood vessels on the surface of the skin. These conditions are distinct from the more common types of skin cancer.
fat: Fat cells are found throughout the body wherever there is smooth muscle tissue.
tendons: Leiomyosarcoma can also affect the connective tissue between muscles.
joints: Smooth muscle tumors particularly affect the surrounding smooth muscle cartilage of the joints. However joint discomfort is more likely due to arthritis.
kidney: Although leiomyosarcoma cancer can arise in the smooth muscles of the kidney, it accounts for only three percent of kidney cancers. The most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma.
Leiomyosarcoma Cancer Tumors
Leiomyosarcoma cancer tumors are made up of spindle-shaped cells. Typically, these tumors range in diameter from 4 to 5 cm (1.5 to 2 inches) to 19 to 20 cm (7.5 to 8 inches). On rare occasions, however, these smooth muscle leiomyosarcomas have grown as large as 30 to 35 cm (12 to 14 inches) in diameter.