Desmoid tumor is a type of benign (noncancerous) tumor that occurs in the fibrous tissue of your tendons and ligaments. Unlike a desmoid tumor, a lipoma develops in the form of a fatty tumor under your skin.
Desmoid tumors do not spread to other parts of the body as they are noncancerous. However, there are some which are quite aggressive. They can develop faster, like a malignant one. Under these circumstances, they can be fatal as they grow to nearby tissues.
Besides, desmoid tumors have a link to pregnancy and certain types of injuries. Desmoid tumors have some other names like Deep fibromatosis, Aggressive fibromatosis, Hereditary desmoid disease, Musculoaponeurotic fibromatosis, Familial infiltrative fibromatosis, and Desmoid fibromatosis.
What causes desmoid tumors?
Researchers do not know clearly what causes desmoid tumors. However, doctors are aware that the changes in the DNA of connective tissue cells are a part of it. The DNA of a cell instructs it to perform certain actions. Therefore, any changes in the DNA of these cells lead to problems.
The cells start multiplying rapidly and create a tumor (mass of cells) that destroys and invades the healthy tissue of the body. Furthermore, these tumors can grow at any age, and in any part of the body. But mostly they affect females in their thirties. This cancer is very rare, as only two to four people per million develop a desmoid tumor each year.
Furthermore, some people have a higher chance of developing this cancer. For instance, people having an inherited form of cancer called familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) are more likely to develop a desmoid tumor. Such people develop a desmoid tumor in their colon and abdomen.
Depending on the location of a desmoid tumor, you can develop to different extents. For instance, if your tumor is near the surface of your skin, you may develop a slightly painful or completely painless lump.
However, the tumor may become more aggressive if it is present in the abdomen. Such tumors result in pain as the desmoid tumor can press against nerves and blood vessels. Thus, you may develop problems using your feet, arms, hands, or legs, or develop a limp.
The tumor can even grow to nearby tissue and block your colon. Therefore, you may develop several problems in the area of the rectum. Health problems like severe pain, bleeding from the rectum, and other health problems are common.
Your doctor may follow several steps to find out what type of desmoid tumor you have. He/she will thoroughly check you physically and look for any signs. Then, he/she will order various tests.
Ultrasound. To know if the tumor is a solid one, your doctor may order an ultrasound. This test makes use of high-frequency sound waves to create images.
Imaging scans. Various other imaging scans are helpful. These scans show whether your surgeon can remove a desmoid tumor safely. It will also help in finding if the tumor is in contact with other tissues
One of these scanning tests is an MRI. It uses radio waves and magnets to form images of your tumor. Another one is a CT scan, which forms a complete image of your tumor by putting together X-rays that your technician takes from several angles.
Biopsy. To confirm a tumor, a biopsy is beneficial. After your doctor suspects a tumor by various scanning tests, he/she may order for a biopsy later. In this test, your surgeon will remove a small piece of tissue and analyze it under a microscope. This way, your doctor can confirm a desmoid tumor.
Your doctor may recommend certain treatments when you have a desmoid tumor.
Wait and watch. Some tumors need no treatment as they don’t grow usually. Others get smaller on their own with time. Therefore, if your desmoid tumor is small and outside the belly, your doctor may recommend this approach. Also, under these conditions, the tumors do not cause any symptoms.
Surgery. Your doctor may recommend surgery most often. This is because surgery is one of the best options to remove the tumor at once. However, as per research, about 25 to 50 percent of the tumors revert. Thus, you may require some other treatments as well.
Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is an effective tool to curb the tumor. Your doctor may use it with medicines, or surgery, or both. However, if the tumor is present in the abdomen, this may become problematic to use radiation therapy. This is because radiation can destroy other vital organs.
Radiofrequency ablation. In this procedure, your doctor blasts your tumors with heat by inserting needles into the tumor. As this approach is a new one, thus your doctor may not recommend it at first.
Medication. For desmoid tumors, standard drug treatment is there. Various kinds of medications are beneficial in shrinking the tumors. This stops their growth as well.
Cryoablation. In this technique, your doctor uses a probe to freeze the tissue of your tum
Coping and support
When you get diagnosed with desmoid tumor, it could be frightening for you. The condition will be no different for your family.
However, you may learn to cope with the uncertainty and distress related to cancer with time. Thus, you need to follow these instructions until then;
Call on for medical support:
Various things are going to help you. For instance, the knowledge and understanding of a medical social worker, or any other mental health professional is necessary. They will help you in understanding your cancer.
Furthermore, if your child or other family member suffers from cancer, you need to ask health care professionals for advice. They will provide you with options for medical health support. This will also provide you with emotional and social support.
In addition to this, you can check various online services that will provide you support to combat cancer.
- Gain more knowledge about desmoid tumor to make decisionsabout control and care:
Ask your doctor about various treatment options related to desmoid tumor. Little knowledge is dangerous. Therefore, more confidence in understanding and making decisions about treatment options will be there with you. So you should always learn more about the disease.
Ask the health care team for guidance if your child has cancer. Therefore, get more and more information for appropriately caring for the patient.
Be close to your friends and family:
A close and strong relationship with your family and friends is necessary. It will help you deal with desmoid tumor.
You need practical support, moral support from your friends and relatives. Thus, someone should be there for you to look after the family. Emotional support from them is going to matter most. Thus, a healthy and happy person will ultimately efficiently fight the disease.
Prepare for your appointment
You are likely to start making an appointment with your primary care doctor if some signs and symptoms worry you. Ask for a referral to an experienced specialist if your doctor suspects desmoid tumor.
A team of specialists typically can treat. For instance;
Tumor surgeons who have specialization in operating soft tissue cancers.
Doctors who have a specialization in treating cancers with systemic medications or chemotherapy.
Pathologists diagnose the specific type of cancer by analyzing a tissue.
Rehabilitation specialists who after surgery help in the recovery of a tumor.
What you should expect from your doctor:
You will face several questions from your doctor. Thus, you should be ready to answer these. So, give more time to your doctor to address them. Your doctor may ask;
What signs and symptoms concern you more?
Have your symptoms been occasional or continuous?
When did you start to notice the symptoms?
The severity of your symptoms?
Is there anything that improves your symptoms?
Is there anything that worsens your symptoms?
Do you have any family or personal history of cancer?