Desmoid Tumors

What are Desmoid Tumors?

Desmoid tumors are fibrous neoplasms that appear as firm growths of tissue on the body and they are aggressive. They have a tendency to be reoccurring and they are fairly rare.

These benign growths develop in the connective tissue and can spread from limbs and abdomen, where they’re primarily located, to nearby organs and cause a series of complications that might require surgery.

What are the Symptoms of Desmoid Tumors?

A desmoid tumor looks like a mass or lump. It grows quickly and can be quite painful. Depending on the location of the growth, it can restrict motion and cause pain in joints.

Pain is commonly felt in the area around the tumor.

Desmoid Tumors Causes

The most common cause linked to desmoid tumors are genetics. Parents pass on the inherited gene called beta catenin to the offspring. Another form of this mutated gene causing this condition is identified with familial adenomatous polyposis, an inherited form of colon cancer polyps.

Sometimes, the tumor occurs with no association to genetics or other existing health conditions. These growth forms are defined as sporadic and don’t spread to other parts of the body, unlike an aggressive fibromatosis condition also connected to desmoid tumors outside the abdomen.

Major contributors to this condition are women reaching the age of 30 and the conception of children. The higher levels of hormones during pregnancy raise the risk of desmoid tumors. In this instance, the cause of the tumor results from the abdominal wall expanding to accommodate the developing fetus. Other causes of these tumors during pregnancy are tied to the excessive measures of hormonal changes counteracting the immune system, allowing the development of tumors.

How are Desmoid Tumors Treated?

Surgery is the most typical form of treatment for desmoid tumors as it is also the most successful treatment. Not everyone is a prime candidate for surgery though and in some cases, the desmoid tumor comes back. Additionally, if the tumor is located in an area which cannot be accessed without damaging surrounding tissues and organs, the treatment is usually restricted to the symptoms or other approaches.

For those who refuse surgery or are not able to have surgery there are in fact other options.

Radiation therapy can be used for the main treatment or it can be used if the tumor is recurring. Antiestrogens and prostaglandin inhibitors may be prescribed. They have a response rate of about 40-50%. If desmoid tumors are extra-abdominal and recurring and surgery has not been successful, chemotherapy may be suggested. Another treatment that might be considered is magnetic resonance-guided high focused ultrasound. It is consider safe and can be very effective for some desmoid tumors.

Desmoid Tumors Prevention

There is no way to prevent desmoid tumors, but the risk of getting them can be decreased by making a few lifestyle changes. Start by reducing excessive portions of acid in your diet, it minimizes the contributors of desmoid tumors. Eating a healthier diet and fewer beverages like alcohol, carbonated drinks, coffee and teas also help to diminish the risk.

If you have a family history of genetic desmoid tumors, you need to talk with your doctor to learn about the hazards associated with this disease. The more you know about the relationship between genetics and desmoid tumors, the more you can help your family and future generations.

Your doctor may prescribe inhibitors to prevent the tumors from growing with medications or pharmacologic therapy once genetic testing and examinations are conducted.

Last Reviewed:
October 05, 2016
Last Updated:
December 13, 2017