Desmoid Tumor Facts

Desmoid tumors (also known as aggressive fibromatosis) are considered non cancerous, meaning they do not metastasize to distant parts of the body like cancerous tumors do. However, they can still be locally aggressive, meaning they can invade nearby tissues and structures and cause significant morbidity.

Desmoid tumors arise from the connective tissue, specifically from cells called fibroblasts. These tumors can develop anywhere in the body where there is connective tissue, but they are most commonly found in the abdominal wall, arms, legs and sometimes in the chest wall.

  • Desmoid tumors can exhibit unpredictable behavior. They may grow slowly, remain stable in size for long periods, spontaneously regress (shrink and disappear) or grow rapidly. The growth pattern of desmoid tumors can vary greatly between individuals.
  • The symptoms of desmoid tumors can vary depending on their location and size. Common symptoms may include:
    • A palpable mass or lump in the affected area.
    • Pain or discomfort, especially if the tumor compresses nearby structures or nerves.
    • Restricted movement or function, particularly if the tumor affects muscles or joints.
    • Symptoms related to compression of nearby organs or structures, such as bowel obstruction if the tumor is in the abdomen.
  • Diagnosis of desmoid tumors typically involves imaging studies such as MRI or CT scan to visualize the tumor and assess its size and extent. A biopsy may be performed to confirm the diagnosis by examining the tumor tissue under a microscope. Treatment options for desmoid tumors may include observation (watchful waiting), surgery, radiation therapy, systemic therapy (such as targeted therapy or chemotherapy) or a combination of these approaches.

The choice of treatment depends on factors such as the location, size and aggressiveness of the tumor, as well as the individual patient’s overall health and preferences.