Malignant Fibrous Histiocystoma Symptoms & Causes

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What is malignant fibrous histiocytoma?

A malignant fibrous histiocytoma is a type of cancerous tumor that can start in either bone or, most often, in the soft tissues that connect, support or surround organs and other body parts. It’s a painless mass that most often turns up in the extremities, although it can occur anywhere in the body. It most commonly spreads (metastasizes) to the lungs, but can also invade the lymph nodes and bone.

What causes malignant fibrous histiocytoma?

The exact cause of malignant fibrous histiocytoma is not entirely understood, however, studies have indicated that genetics may play a role. In addition:

  • Scientists are looking into the role of an associated genetic abnormality on the short arm of chromosome 19 that may give rise to this disease.
  • It has also been linked to radiation treatment for breast cancer, retinoblastoma and Hodgkin disease.
  • Malignant fibrous histiocytoma originating in the bone has been linked to pre-existing conditions such as Paget's disease or fibrous dysplasia of the bone.

Is malignant fibrous histiocytoma common?

While it’s among the most common types of soft tissue tumors found in adults, it is rarely found in children. It makes up only a tiny percentage of all soft tissue sarcomas, which as a group account for only 1 percent of new cancer cases in children each year.

What are the symptoms of malignant fibrous histiocytoma?

Because soft tissue sarcomas affect tissue that is elastic and easily moved, a tumor may exist for a long time before being discovered, growing large and pushing aside surrounding tissue. Symptoms vary greatly with the size, location and spread of the tumor, but may include:

  • painless swelling or mass anywhere on the body
  • pain or soreness caused by compressed nerves or muscles
  • limping or other difficulty using the legs, feet, arms or hands
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