About Desmoid Tumors

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Desmoid tumors grow from connective tissue. They are benign (not cancerous). Desmoid tumors may also be called aggressive fibromatosis or desmoid-type fibromatosis.

Connective tissue supports and connects your bones, ligaments, and muscles, and it holds your organs in place. Since connective tissue is found everywhere in the body, a desmoid tumor can occur anywhere. They are often found in the abdomen, shoulders, upper arms, and thighs.

Desmoid tumor cells do not travel through the body like cancer, and most desmoids do not impact lifespan. But they can grow into nearby tissue and affect how the body functions at the site of the tumor. For example, desmoid tumors growing in the abdomen can cause a blockage in the intestine.

Desmoid tumors can cause pain and can be hard to remove. Even with surgery, desmoid tumors can recur. Desmoid tumors can be hard to predict. They can shrink and go away on their own, they can remain the same size, or they can grow quickly. It is important that your doctor monitor growth of these tumors carefully.

Huntsman Cancer Institute treats desmoid tumors since they often require the same treatment as malignant (cancerous) tumors. Our surgeons are experts in removing tumors that occur in connective tissue and complex areas of the head and neck. Our experts can treat desmoid tumors with other cancer treatments such as cryoabaltion, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

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Desmoid Tumor Signs & Symptoms

These are common symptoms of desmoid tumors:

  • Pain and swelling in the area of the tumor
  • Sleep loss
  • Difficulty moving arms, hands, or legs
  • Tingling feeling

Desmoid Tumor Diagnosis & Stages

Doctors use these tests to diagnose desmoid tumors:

  • Physical exam and history: A health care provider examines your body. Your personal health habits, past illnesses, and symptoms help guide the exam.
  • Imaging tests: Your health care provider uses ultrasounds, x-rays, an MRI, or a CT scan to identify the location and size of the tumor.
  • Biopsy: The health care provider removes cells or tissue samples so they can be viewed under a microscope.

Desmoid Tumor Causes & Risk Factors

Desmoid tumors are rare. They are most common in people between the ages of 15–60. They are more common in females than males.

In 5–10% of cases, desmoid tumors are genetic. People with Gardner syndrome, a form of familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), have a high risk of developing desmoid tumors.

Desmoid Tumor Treatments & Services

Huntsman Cancer Institute offers these desmoid tumor treatment options:

  • Active surveillance
  • Chemotherapy
  • Cryoablation
  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy

Talk to your doctor about which treatment options are right for you.