Desmoid tumour in familial adenomatous polyposis. A review of literature

Fam Cancer. 2001;1(2):111-9. doi: 10.1023/a:1013841813544.


Desmoid tumours (DT) are rare benign tumours that do not metastasise, but tend to invade locally. DT are frequently seen in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), and diagnosis and treatment are often difficult. Surgical trauma, genetic predisposition and hormonal factors are considered to be correlated with the development and growth of DT. In patients with FAP, 50% of the tumours are localised intra-abdominally, and 85-100% of these are mesenteric. DT frequently present as non- tender, slowly growing masses. The symptoms are abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea or haematochezia. Mesenteric DT can cause small bowel obstruction or ischaemia, hydronephrosis or form fistulas. Diagnosis is obtained through biopsy and the extension is determined by a CT-scan. Surgical excision is recommended in patients with DT in the abdominal wall. First line treatment of mesenteric DT is a NSAID in combination with tamoxifen. Surgery may be considered in case of a small and well-defined DT with no signs of invasion of vital structures, and in cases of imminent bowel ischaemia or obstruction. The prognosis in mesenteric DT is serious, and improvement of the therapeutic strategy awaits current international studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / etiology
  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli / complications*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Fibroma / drug therapy
  • Fibroma / etiology*
  • Fibroma / pathology
  • Fibroma / surgery
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intestinal Obstruction / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Tamoxifen / therapeutic use
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Tamoxifen