The 39-year-old U.K. woman, Stephanie Coles, was diagnosed with her condition in December after finding a lump on her abdomen, the BBC reported. A doctor initially thought that the lump may have been an enlarged spleen, but when Coles turned up at the hospital in pain shortly afterwards, they decided to investigate further.
A scan revealed leiomyosarcoma, or LMS, which is a type of soft tissue sarcoma that grows in smooth muscles. These muscles are in the hollow organs of the body, such as the intestines, stomach, bladder and blood vessels.
The condition is described by the U.S. National Cancer Institute as a rare, aggressive cancer that can grow quickly. According to one estimate, LMS accounts for between 7 and 11 percent of all soft tissue sarcomas and soft tissue sarcomas account for just 1 percent of all adult cancers in the U.S., the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) states.
It isn’t known exactly what causes LMS to form, though some genetic conditions have been associated with it, including hereditary retinoblastoma and Li-Fraumeni syndrome, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Coles was told that cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy wouldn’t work on her tumor and would cause damage to her internal organs. Instead, doctors will have to carry out a complex surgery to remove it.
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