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Muscle cancer (myosarcomas)


Muscle tumors have different names depending on whether they are benign or malignant. They can affect any muscle in the human body. The name "myoma" is used for benign tumors, and "sarcoma" for malignant tumors or cancers. Myosarcomas have two different names as they affect smooth muscle of involuntary order (as those of the digestive organs) or striated muscles (also called skeletal muscles), which are moved and controlled at will. These tumors are respectively named leiomyosarcomas and rhabdomyosarcomas. If they are benign, the terms leiomyoma and rhabdomyomas are used. Muscle cancers are rare. Rhabdomyosarcoma are in most cases found in children, while leiomyosarcomas concern more frequently adults and are located mainly in the digestive organs, or in the uterus in women.


The clinical symptoms of myosarcomas will depend on their location and the affected muscle, so the symptoms are varied. They usually go unnoticed initially because they cause few symptoms in the early stages. In general, rhabdomyosarcoma, during their development, may be manifested by the abnormal, and sometimes painful, growth of a muscle. Regarding leiomyosarcomas, their development is "deeper" since they affect the visceral muscles in the abdominal cavity, and thus their discovery is often made after the appearance of chronic signs affecting the area that they affect.


The cancer may be discovered by chance, that is to say, before the onset of symptoms, in the case of an imaging examination for some other reason. Once the lesion is identified, a sample called a biopsy of the tumor can be made to allow an analysis of the tissue and cells. This technique is ideal for cancer of the superficial muscles, often skeletal muscle, but can be more complicated when the cancer affects a deep muscle, especially smooth muscle. In case of confirmation of the malignant nature of the tumor, the search for a possible spreading of cancer cells is required.


Muscle cancer treatment is surgical. It is possible to ablate the tumor with a portion of healthy tissue according to the extent of cancer. Often, chemotherapy is practiced beforehand in rhabdomyosarcoma as an attempt to reduce the size of the tumor. External radiotherapy is also possible. The decision for which method of treatment to use depends on the stage of the cancer and the results of staging.

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