Leiomyosarcoma (LMS) is not hereditary, which means it does not run in families. However, LMS can be part of many genetic syndromes that can be inherited. So, the doctor may screen a person for inherited genetic syndromes if their family member has one of the syndromes or if the person is showing symptoms.
The following syndromes increase the risk of leiomyosarcoma
- Hereditary retinoblastoma
- Li-Fraumeni syndrome
- Neurofibromatosis type 1
- Tuberous sclerosis
- Nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome
- Gardner syndrome
- Werner syndrome
What is leiomyosarcoma?
Leiomyosarcoma (LMS) is a malignant tumor that originates in smooth muscle cells. It is a rare and aggressive type of cancer that tends to grow fast if not diagnosed in time.
Before learning about LMS, it is important to learn about smooth muscles. There are two types of muscles in the body: voluntary and involuntary. Involuntary muscles do not contract voluntarily. They control our involuntary functions, such as breathing, digestion and blood pressure. Smooth muscles react involuntarily in response to various stimuli. Some functions of smooth muscles at different locations include
- Smooth muscles that line the walls of the digestive tract help peristalsis, which helps to transport food.
- Smooth muscles in the skin cause goosebumps to form in response to cold.
- Smooth muscles in the salivary glands cause them to secrete saliva in response to taking a bite of food.
Smooth muscles are found almost everywhere in the body. Hence, LMS can form almost anywhere, including
- Blood vessels
- Genitourinary system
- Gastrointestinal tract
- Retroperitoneum (the space behind the abdominal cavity)
- Uterus (the most common site of LMS)
LMS is classified under soft tissue sarcoma. Sarcomas are cancerous tumors that start from the connective tissue, which connects, supports and surrounds organs. Soft tissue includes
- Blood and lymph vessels
What are other risk factors associated with leiomyosarcoma?
Most people who get leiomyosarcoma (LMS) are over the age of 50 years old. Other risk factors associated with LMS include
- External radiation therapy
- Thorotrast (a contrast X-ray dye that is no longer used)
- Arsenical pesticides and medications
- Phenoxy herbicides
- Vinyl chloride
- Immunosuppressive drugs
- Alkylating agents
- Androgen-anabolic steroids
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Human herpesvirus type 8 (Kaposi sarcoma)
Other causes of LMS include
- Post-transplant immunosuppression
- Thyroid disorders
- Autoimmune disease
- Hormonal factors
- Chronic repair processes
- Damaged lymph system
Are there any early screening tests that can be done for LMS?
Currently, there aren’t any targeted screening tests for leiomyosarcoma (LMS). The only way to prevent LMS is to limit exposure to the risk factors. However, even people without any risk factors can develop LMS, so at this time there is no known way to prevent LMS.
How is LMS diagnosed?
If a person has signs and symptoms of LMS, the physician may probably recommend these tests to identify LMS
- Medical history and physical examination
- Imaging tests, such as plain X-ray, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound and positron emission tomography (PET) scan
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