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Uterine Fibroid (Leiomyoma) vs. Uterine Leiomyosarcoma

From the Uterine Fibroids Articles List

ULMS vs. FibroidsWhat are the differences and similarities between a uterine fibroid and uterine leiomyosarcoma?

Uterine fibroids, also known as uterine leiomyoma, are common among women. They are almost always benign, and they have a good prognosis. But they are not to be confused with uterine leiomyoscarcomas, which are a rare type of uterine sarcoma; they are cancerous tumors, and they come with a poor prognosis.

It is not believed that these leiomyosarcomas begin as fibroids, nor that having fibroids increases your risk of developing a leiomyosarcoma or other uterine cancers. Both can be painless masses and both can grow, but a leiomyosarcoma may grow more quickly than a fibroid.

Key characteristics of uterine leiomyosarcoma include:
  • Invasive, necrotic, and hemorrhagic.
  • May cause non-menstrual vaginal bleeding.
  • Usually diagnosed at age 50 and older.
  • Cancerous.

Because a leiomyosarcoma can closely resemble a fibroid, a correct diagnosis can be critical to receiving the best care and treatment.

Even though they may look alike at first, a closer look shows several differences between the two. Unlike fibroids, leiomyosarcomas tend to be invasive, necrotic, and hemorrhagic. Fibroids tend to have a firm, creamy white surface unlike a leiomyosarcoma. Under a microscope, leiomyosarcomas can have an increase in mitotic rate, necrosis, and/or enlarged epithelial cells.

Uterine leiomyosarcomas and fibroids can both cause vaginal bleeding; however, with a leiomyosarcoma the bleeding tends to be separate from the menstrual period, occurring between periods or
Say What?
Medical Terms Decoded

Necrotic: killing living tissue
Hemorrhagic: causing heavy bleeding
Epithelial cells: cells that line the cavities of the body
Mitotic rate: how quickly cancer cells are dividing and growing
Endometrial stromal sarcomas: cancerous tumors in the connective tissue of the endometrium
after menopause. According to the American Cancer Society, “about 85% of patients diagnosed with uterine sarcomas have irregular vaginal bleeding (between periods) or bleeding after menopause;” however, “of the uterine sarcomas, leiomyosarcomas are less likely to cause abnormal bleeding than endometrial stromal sarcomas and undifferentiated sarcomas.”

Women with fibroids tend to be diagnosed around age 40–50, while those diagnosed with leiomyosarcomas tend to be diagnosed at age 50 and older.

If you suspect you have either a fibroid or a leiomyosarcoma, speak to your physician about your symptoms and any known risk factors. If you suspect cancer at all, it may be wise to consult with a gynecologic oncologist for a second opinion.

This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.

02-19-2014 - 03:07 PM


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