Solitary Fibrous Tumors

What are Solitary Fibrous Tumors?

Solitary fibrous tumors emerge from cells of soft tissues as cancerous or noncancerous growths. These tumors are normally located in the area that surrounds the lungs. Other places where these growths are commonly found include the spinal cord, kidneys, prostate, head and neck.

Most solitary fibrous tumors are not cancerous and there are no solid answers as to what causes these growths. Researchers suspect that they may be caused by an inherited gene mutation. There are no risk factors involved and both men and women in the age group of 20 to 70 years old are most likely to be diagnosed with solitary fibrous tumors.

What are the Symptoms of Solitary Fibrous Tumors?

When individuals develop this type of tumor, symptoms may not occur if the growth is small. The only identifiable symptom is pain if the tumor is pressing against another part of the anatomy. As these tumors slowly grow, individuals will notice distinguishable blood vessels on the skin that is covering the growth.

The temperature of the skin at the tumor site may also be elevated. If the mass is growing near a joint, the movement around the joint is often limited. Individuals who have a large tumor growth may develop hypoglycemia and this causes dizziness, sweating and mental confusion.

Solitary Fibrous Tumors Causes

Solitary fibrous tumors (SFT) can appear almost anywhere in the body and form from rare spindle cell neoplasms. Typically, these tumors are benign.

They occur most often in and around the lungs (the pleura). However, SFTs can occur in the prostate, the breast, around the spinal cord or other region of the body (particularly the thyroid, meninges or pericardium).

The cause of these tumors is largely unknown. SFTs are often difficult to diagnose because they exhibit so few symptoms, unless they impinge on the organ they are forming around. In the case of the tumor forming in the pleura around the lung, the most common form of SFT, symptoms occurs when the tumor pushes on the lungs causing chest pain, coughing and shortness of breath. SFTs seem to affect men and women equally.

How are Solitary Fibrous Tumors Treated?

When individuals acquire hypoglycemia, corticosteroids are prescribed to treat this condition. Treating solitary fibrous tumors usually consists of removing the tumor during a surgical procedure. In addition to surgery, many individuals may also undergo radiotherapy if there is a chance that the tumor will reemerge or if the entire tumor could not be removed during surgery.

Cancer specialists may also recommend additional chemotherapy treatments to assist in eradicating the tumor. A different procedure, called an arterial embolization, may also be recommended. During this type of treatment, the growth is eliminated by cutting off the tumor’s blood supply.

Solitary Fibrous Tumors Prevention

Because the cause of SFTs is unknown, prevention is not really possible. These tumors are also rare, which makes them difficult to study. What can be prevented is damage from these tumors caused by uninterrupted growth or allowing the tumor to metastasize. The typical treatment for SFT is complete surgical removal of the tumor. A complete excision is most desirable whether the tumor is benign or malignant, because they can reoccur in the same place, particularly if the removal is not total.

Reoccurence of the tumor after removal manifests around 8% of the time. SFTs do have some malignant potential, so diagnosis and treatment are indicated even in the absence of symptoms. SFTs can grow large so, again, even without malignancy, they can represent some danger or discomfort.

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Last Reviewed:
October 10, 2016
Last Updated:
November 15, 2017
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