Desmoid disease in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis

Dis Colon Rectum. 2000 Mar;43(3):363-9. doi: 10.1007/BF02258303.


Purpose: The aim of this retrospective study was to review the clinical features, and surgical and medical management of patients with familial adenomatous polyposis-associated desmoid tumors.

Methods: From 1980 to 1997, 97 of 780 patients with familial adenomatous polyposis developed desmoid disease. Clinical and demographic data; operative notes; and histologic, radiologic, and follow-up reports were retrieved from patients' medical records. Risk factors for desmoid disease, such as prior surgery, age at desmoid tumor diagnosis, pregnancy, and family history were sought. The outcome after noncytotoxic and cytotoxic therapy was evaluated with respect to improvement of symptoms.

Results: There were 38 males with a mean age of 32.1 years and 59 females with a mean age of 29.1 years. A family history of desmoid tumors was found in 41 patients (42 percent), and a history of pregnancy was documented in 33 females (56 percent). The most common clinical presentation was small-bowel obstruction (58 percent). One-half of the desmoids were located in the mesentery, and 32 percent were located in the mesentery and the abdominal wall. Desmoids developed after colectomy in 77 cases (80 percent), after a mean time of 4.6 years. Partial resection of desmoid tumor was performed in 46 patients (47 percent), resection of extra-abdominal desmoid tumors was performed in 17 cases (17 percent), and biopsy only was performed in 34 patients (35 percent). Postoperative morbidity was 23 percent after desmoid tumor resection. Eight patients (8 percent) died of their intra-abdominal desmoid. Mean follow-up time was 5.3 years. Sulindac, tamoxifen, or toremifene therapy was able to alleviate symptoms in only 4 of 31 patients. Symptomatic improvement was noted after chemotherapy in six of ten patients with extremely complex desmoids.

Conclusion: Desmoid disease was found in 12.4 percent of our patients with familial adenomatous polyposis. In view of the high rate of morbidity, indication for surgery should be limited mainly to acute or chronic small-bowel obstruction, because resection triggers a high recurrence rate. Noncytotoxic therapy was not effective for progressive desmoid tumors, whereas chemotherapy was effective in aggressive cases of intra-abdominal desmoid tumors.

MeSH terms

  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli / drug therapy
  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli / genetics*
  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli / mortality
  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli / surgery
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Female
  • Fibromatosis, Abdominal / drug therapy
  • Fibromatosis, Abdominal / genetics*
  • Fibromatosis, Abdominal / mortality
  • Fibromatosis, Abdominal / surgery
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Obstruction / drug therapy
  • Intestinal Obstruction / genetics
  • Intestinal Obstruction / mortality
  • Intestinal Obstruction / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Rate