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Angiomyxoma

Angiomyxomas are a rare type of soft tissue tumour (lump). They are not thought of as cancer because they usually grow quite slowly. They don't usually spread to other parts of the body.

What it is

These tumours develop from a type of cell called myxoid cells. They are one type of cell found in the body's connective tissue. These tissues hold organs and other body structures in place. There are two types of angiomyxoma:

  • superficial angiomyxoma
  • aggressive angiomyxoma

Superficial angiomyxoma

Superficial means near the surface. So this type is most likely to grow on the outside surface of the trunk and lower part of the body, the genitals (penis and vagina), and head and neck.

The same number of men and women develop superficial angiomyxoma. It occurs most commonly in people between the ages of 40 and 60.

Aggressive angiomyxoma

Aggressive angiomyxoma tends to grow deeper into the tissue. They can also grow into the tissues around them. But they are very unlikely to spread to other parts of the body.

Aggressive angiomyxoma mostly develops between the legs or in the pelvis. The pelvis is the part of the lower abdomen inside your hip bones. More than 9 out of 10 people (90%) diagnosed with the aggressive type are women. Most are of childbearing age.

Symptoms

Pain or a feeling of pressure in the area is the most common symptom. But most people don’t have many symptoms.

Diagnosis

It can be difficult to diagnose angiomyxoma. These are very rare tumours and they can be mistaken for something else that is much more common. Many people are diagnosed with it when they have surgery for what is thought to be something else. 

Tests

Tests you may have include:

  • an ultrasound scan
  • a CT scan
  • an MRI scan.

Treatment

The main treatment for both types of angiomyxoma is surgery to remove the whole tumour. Depending on where the tumour is, it may be difficult to completely remove it. The medical literature suggests that about 3 out of 10 (30%) aggressive angiomyxoma tumours will come back (recur). Sometimes they can keep coming back. Coping with this can be difficult.

Hormone therapy

Another treatment you may have is hormone therapy. Some angiomyxomas are hormone sensitive or hormone dependent. This means that they use hormones to grow. Hormone therapies can slow down or stop the growth of a tumour by either:

  • stopping hormones being made or
  • preventing hormones from making cancer cells grow and divide

The hormone treatments that you might have include goserelin and tamoxifen. Your doctor might suggest you have hormone treatment:

  • before surgery if you have a large tumour to make surgery easier or
  • after surgery to reduce the risk of the tumour coming back

The length of time you need to take it is uncertain. This is a relatively new treatment and some women who have stopped taking it found the tumour grew again.

Decisions about treatment

Because angiomyxoma is so rare, there is less information than for more common conditions. Most of what has been written about angiomyxomas in medical journals describes individual cases.

This makes it difficult for us to generalise here, because so few people have this condition. As with most very rare conditions, you are most likely to get reliable information from your own specialist. They are be able to talk to you about the different treatments and what is the best treatment for you.

Follow up

You have regular follow up appointments. This is likely to include having MRI scans. 

More information about angiomyxoma

It can be difficult coping with a rare condition both emotionally and practically. This is especially so if you have a condition that may come back. Finding out about your condition can help you to feel more in control. Ask your specialist if they have treated other people with angiomyxoma. It might be helpful for you to be put in touch with each other.  

You can phone the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040. The lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Last reviewed: 
04 Mar 2015
  • Aggressive angiomyxoma: a case series and literature review

    K Haldar, IE Martinek and S Kehoe

    European Journal of Surgical Oncology, 2010

    Volume 36, Issue 4

  • Aggressive angiomyxoma of the vulva: case report and literature review

    NX Sun NX and W Li

    Journal of International Medical Research, 2010

    Volume 38, Issue 4

  • Aggressive angiomyxoma with diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging and dynamic contrast enhancement: a case report and review of the literature

    S Brunelle and others

    Case Reports in Oncology, 2013

    Volume 6, Issue 2

  • Extragenital aggressive angiomyxoma of the axilla and the chest wall

    B Nayal and others

    Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, 2013

    Volume 7, Issue 4

  • FDG PET/CT findings of superficial angiomyxoma

    J Nishio and others

    Clinical Nuclear Medicine, 2014

    Volume 39, Issue 4

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