Leiomyosarcoma, aka LMS belongs to a group of cancers called soft tissue sarcomas. Sarcomas are cancers that develop in the supporting or connective tissues of the body, such as muscle, fat, nerves, blood vessels, bone, and cartilage. Soft tissue sarcomas are rare. Approximately 1 out of 100 (1%) of all cancers are soft tissue sarcomas. Most people with leiomyosarcoma are over the age of 50.
LMS is one of the more common types of sarcoma to develop in adults. They start from cells in a type of muscle tissue called smooth muscle. Smooth muscles are involuntary muscles that we have no control over. They are found in the walls of muscular organs like the heart and stomach, as well as in the walls of blood vessels throughout the body. This means that leiomyosarcomas can start anywhere in the body. Common places are the walls of the womb (uterus), the limbs and the digestive system - particularly the stomach.
The exact causes of leiomyosarcoma are not known, and research is ongoing to try to find out as much as possible about them. Exposure to some types of chemicals may increase the risk of developing some sarcomas. The chemicals include vinyl chloride (used for making plastics), some types of herbicides (weedkillers) and dioxins.
People with early leiomyosarcoma often don’t have any symptoms. Most leiomyosarcomas are diagnosed after a person develops symptoms, which may include a lump or swelling, abdominal discomfort or bloatedness, swelling or pain in any area of the body, bleeding from the vagina in women who have experienced menopause, or a change in periods for women who have not yet had menopause. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should contact your GP, but remember, these symptoms could also be the cause of other issues. It's just best to play it safe and get things checked out!