Desmoid Tumor

What are Desmoid tumors

Desmoid tumors are thought to develop from the fibrous tissue that forms tendons and ligaments, most often in the arms, legs and abdomen (they can also occur the head and neck). When these tumors occur outside the abdomen, they are called aggressive fibromatosis. These benign tumors do not spread, but they can adhere to and intertwine with surrounding structures and organs, making them difficult to control.

What are the symptoms and causes of Desmoid tumors?

The exact cause of Desmoid tumors and fibromatosis is unknown, though some occur in patients with a history of polyposis coli, a hereditary colon cancer syndrome. Because Desmoid tumors affect tissue that is elastic and easily moved, these tumors may exist for a long time before being discovered, growing larger and pushing aside surrounding tissue. The most common symptoms of Desmoid tumors include:

  • painless swelling or a lump
  • pain or soreness caused by compressed nerves or muscles
  • pain and obstruction of the bowel
  • limp or other difficulty using the legs, feet, arms or hands

How we care for Desmoid tumors

Patients with Desmoid tumors and fibromatosis are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through the Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors Program.