Mayo Clinic doctors are trusted and respected for their expertise in diagnosing and treating rare conditions, such as desmoid tumors. Specialists draw on their experience with desmoid tumors to provide you with a personalized treatment plan.
Diagnosis at Mayo Clinic
Tests and procedures used to diagnose desmoid tumors include:
- Imaging tests. Mayo Clinic doctors have access to a variety of imaging techniques to create images that help guide diagnosis and treatment. Technologies used to analyze desmoid tumors include CT and MRI.
Removing a sample of tissue for testing (biopsy). To make a definitive diagnosis, your doctor sends a sample of the tumor tissue to a laboratory for testing. There, doctors trained in analyzing body tissues (pathologists) examine the sample to determine the types of cells involved. This information helps guide your treatment.
In order to obtain a tissue sample, surgeons remove some or all of the tumor during an operation.
Treatment at Mayo Clinic
Treatments for desmoid tumors include:
- Monitoring the growth of the tumor. If your desmoid tumor causes no signs or symptoms, your doctor may recommend monitoring the tumor to see if it grows. You may undergo imaging tests every few months. Some tumors never grow and may never require treatment. Some tumors may shrink on their own without any treatment.
- Surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible. If your desmoid tumor causes signs and symptoms, surgeons work to remove the entire tumor and a small margin of healthy tissue that surrounds it. But sometimes the tumor grows to involve nearby structures and can't be completely removed. In these cases, surgeons remove as much of the tumor as possible.
Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses high-powered beams, such as X-rays and protons, to kill tumor cells. Radiation therapy may be an option if you can't undergo surgery. Your doctor may recommend radiation therapy if you have an increased risk that your tumor will return after surgery.
Radiation therapy may also be used alone in situations where surgery isn't possible.
- Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses chemicals to kill tumor cells. You may receive chemotherapy as a pill that you swallow or through a vein in your arm. Your doctor may recommend chemotherapy if other treatments haven't helped control your desmoid tumor.
Heating or freezing tumor tissue. Ablation therapy uses extreme heat (radiofrequency ablation) or cold (cryoablation) to kill tumor cells. In a procedure of this type, a doctor inserts a special probe through the skin and into the tumor.
To ablate tissue during cryoablation, the cryoprobe freezes the area, causing the surrounding tissue to die. During radiofrequency ablation, doctors use electromagnetic energy that heats the tissue to high temperatures and results in cell death.
- Other treatments. Several other treatments have shown promise in people with desmoid tumors, including anti-inflammatory drugs, hormone therapies and targeted therapies.
Aug. 23, 2017
- Vinod R, et al. Desmoid tumors: Epidemiology, risk factors, molecular pathogenesis, clinical presentation, diagnosis and local therapy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 10, 2016.
- Joglekar SB, et al. Current perspectives on desmoid tumors: The Mayo Clinic approach. Cancers. 2011;3:3143.
- Schmitz JJ, et al. Percutaneous cryoablation of extraabdominal desmoid tumors: A 10-year experience. American Journal of Roentgenology. 2016;207:190.