Key Points about Leiomyosarcoma

  • Leiomyosarcoma is a fast-growing type of sarcoma that affects the smooth muscles of the body.
  • Leiomyosarcoma is also known as LMS.
  • Doctors use biopsy, imaging tests and physical exam to diagnose LMS.
  • Treatment for LMS may include surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and/or radiation therapy.


Leiomyosarcoma is a rare type of cancer that grows in the smooth muscles of the body, which includes the intestines, bladder, stomach, blood vessels and the uterus (in females). Also known as LMS, this is an aggressive type of soft tissue sarcoma that typically grows quickly. LMS most commonly occurs in the uterus or abdomen.

Leiomyosarcoma causes

Leiomyosarcoma is caused by mutations (changes) to the DNA of cells of the smooth muscles.

Leiomyosarcoma risk factors

The following factors may increase your risk for developing leiomyosarcoma include:

  • Being exposed to certain chemicals, such as:
    • Herbicides
    • Arsenic
    • Vinyl chloride
    • Dioxin
  • Having certain genetic syndromes in your family, such as:
    • Gardner syndrome
    • Hereditary retinoblastoma
    • Li-Fraumeni syndrome
    • Neurofibromatosis type 1
    • Nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome
    • Tuberous sclerosis
    • Werner syndrome
  • Having lymph nodes removed or damaged during previous cancer treatment
  • Having previously undergone radiation therapy or being exposed to radiation in some other manner

Leiomyosarcoma symptoms

In its early stages, most people with this type of sarcoma won’t experience any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • A lump under the skin that can be felt with the fingers
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Vomiting

Leiomyosarcoma diagnosis

Your oncologist may use one or more of the following tests to diagnose this condition:

  • Physical exam – your doctor will perform a complete physical exam – including asking questions about your health history, your symptoms and related risk factors.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan – this type of imaging test provides a 3-D image of the inside of the body that your doctor can use to determine if there is any cancer present.
  • Biopsy – in this test, your doctor removes a biopsy (small tissue sample) from the suspicious area. This sample is sent to the laboratory, where a specialist closely checks the biopsy for abnormalities.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – this type of imaging test uses high-powered magnets to create detailed images of the inside of your body. Your doctor can closely examine these images to look for any areas that could indicate cancer.

Leiomyosarcoma treatment

Depending on your personal health history, the extent of your leiomyosarcoma and other factors, your oncologist may recommend one or more of the following treatment options:

  • Surgery – in most cases, your doctor will recommend a surgical procedure to remove the cancerous area. Your surgeon will work to preserve as much surrounding healthy tissue as possible. 
  • Chemotherapy – you may need to undergo chemotherapy to destroy any microscopic cancerous cells that couldn’t be removed surgically. During this treatment, medication is used to destroy cancerous cells. Chemotherapy can be taken via an oral (by mouth) pill or intravenously (through a vein).
  • Radiation therapy – this treatment uses high-powered energy beams to destroy cancerous cells. You may need to undergo radiation therapy to destroy any microscopic cancerous cells that are still present.

When should I seek care?

If you experience any of these symptoms, start by voicing your concerns and symptoms to your primary care provider. From there, your doctor may suggest seeing an oncologist for more specialized treatment.

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