Like benign fibroids, the causes of uterine leiomyosarcoma is unknown. Most experts believe that the occurrence of a cancerous fibroid is independent of the presence of a non-cancerous fibroid.
However, in rare cases, some researchers believe they may signify a malignant transformation of a non-cancerous fibroid. However, this topic is still in debate and no conclusive evidence has been found yet.
As there are very few chances of its occurrence, there is no reason to worry much, but it is good to know the symptoms and ways to get it diagnosed. This can help you seek timely medical advice, in case there is a concern.
What are the symptoms of a cancerous fibroid?
A cancerous fibroid includes almost all the symptoms of a non-cancerous fibroid. However, if there is a growth of a cancerous fibroid, there may be some additional complaints too.
This may be the time to seek immediate medical advice to rule out any complications and cancerous growths. Some of the symptoms of a cancerous fibroid that you should watch out for include:
- Sudden and rapid growth of uterine fibroid
- Unusual bleeding from the vagina
- Post-menopausal bleeding
- Excessive bleeding causing anemia
While most of these are clinical presentations, history taking and examination are also taken into consideration.
How do doctors diagnose uterine fibroids?
Your doctor will diagnose a cancerous fibroid or uterine leiomyosarcoma in the same way as benign fibroids.
Then they will detect fibroids during a physical examination. Your doctor may feel an irregular and firm lump during a pelvic or abdominal exam.
To rule out fibroids, your doctor will suggest undergoing scans mentioned below:
The doctor will advise an MRI to detect the size, number, and location of fibroids. An MRI uses magnet and radio waves to produce images that help your doctor to distinguish between adenomyosis and fibroids.
An MRI will help your doctor to confirm fibroids and know which treatment will be beneficial and effective for you.
Most commonly, doctors order an ultrasound to scan for fibroids. An ultrasound uses sound waves to detect fibroids and involves frequencies that are much higher than what you can hear.
The doctor will place an ultrasound probe on your abdomen or inside the vagina that scans ovaries and uterus. The results from ultrasound help your doctor to detect fibroids and suggest appropriate treatments.
Other tests that your doctor will suggest are as follows:
- Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)
These techniques are often useful to detect non-cancerous fibroids. However, the use of these techniques must be planned carefully if the fibroids are cancerous, to avoid any kind of spread to the other parts.
Any unusual findings on the imaging tests can raise suspicion of the possibility of a cancerous growth. If so, your doctor may advise further investigations and advanced tests to rule out the possibility of cancer.
Can fibroids cause other complications?
Fibroids don’t usually cause complications but when they do, they can be very serious and life-threatening.
Complications of uterine fibroids include:
- Infertility: In some cases, fibroids will make it difficult for the fertilized egg to attach itself to the lining of the womb. If you have a submucosal fibroid (or fibroids that grow inside the uterine cavity) it may change the shape of the womb and give less space to the placenta.
- Menorrhagia: Also known as heavy periods, this condition can make it difficult for a woman to function properly and finish their daily tasks. This might lead to fatigue, anemia, and depression.
- Abdominal pain: You may experience swelling and discomfort in the lower abdomen if the fibroids are large. Also, it may cause constipation with painful bowel movements.
- Difficulties in pregnancy: Fibroids may cause miscarriages, preterm birth, and labor issues such as estrogen levels increasing significantly during pregnancy.
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