Desmoid tumors are noncancerous growths that commonly develop in the connective tissue of the body. These connective tissues of the body support and connect other body parts and organs. Desmoid tumors can develop at any bodily area; however, they most often occur in the arms, legs, and abdomen. A desmoid tumor can be difficult to control if it begins to grow and intrude on surrounding tissues and organs. Although desmoid tumors are rare, they can occur and are most common in individuals between the ages of 15 and 60 and are slightly more common in women than in men. Treatment for desmoid tumors often involves surgery.
Signs and symptoms of a desmoids tumor may include:
- Painless swelling or lump
- Pain or soreness of the nerves and muscles
- Obstruction of the bowels
- Restricted movement of the arms, legs or other affects parts of the body
Desmoid tumors arise from cells called fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are found throughout the body and their main function is to provide structural support and protection to the vital organs such as lung, liver, blood vessels, heart, kidneys, skin, intestines etc. When they undergo mutations, they can become cancerous and are considered responsible for the development of desmoid tumors. Desmoid tumors may occur in individuals who have a history of polyposis coli, a hereditary colon cancer syndrome. Also, desmoid tumors most commonly occur in women after childbirth. The exact cause of desmoid tumors remains unknown.
A few factors that can increase the risk of developing desmoid tumors include:
- Being female
- Changes in gene mutation
- Family history of desmoid tumors
- Surgical trauma (abdominal surgery)
- Gardener’s syndrome
Many researchers believe that these factors present a risk to the development of desmoid tumors due to a combination of elevated hormones and surgery, however there is no strong scientific evidence to support this claim.