Symptoms of Desmoid Tumors

Executive Summary

Desmoid tumors are diagnosed based on signs and symptoms. The symptoms and signs of desmoid tumors will depend on the location and size of the tumor. The initial sign of a desmoid tumor may be the presence of a painless, firm lump or bump or swelling in the legs, chest area, arms, abdomen, or neck. Some people feel a painful swelling or bump. Other signs and symptoms of desmoid tumor include moderate to the extreme pain, presence of a lump, bump, mass or area in the form of swelling, nausea and cramping in case desmoid tumor develops in the abdomen, non-functioning of the region diagnosed with tumor, soreness or extreme discomfort, weakness, challenging in hand and arm movement, tingling sensation, and difficulty in moving legs and feet. The desmoid tumors in the abdomen have symptoms of constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, and rupturing of the intestines.

Signs and Symptoms of Desmoid Tumors

Desmoid tumors can occur in any soft tissue of the body. The signs and symptoms of desmoid tumors that people experience will depend on the location and size of the tumor. Sometimes people with desmoid tumors will experience some or all of the below-mentioned symptoms. But there can also be cases where people may not experience any noticeable symptoms or signs. And at times, these symptoms may indicate some other disease condition and not that of any tumor growth.

Different people experience different signs and symptoms based on where the tumor grows and thrives ​1​. The tumor can occur in any part of the body but is usually developed in the arms, legs or abdomen. The initial sign of a desmoid tumor may be the presence of a painless, firm lump or bump or swelling in the legs, chest area, arms, abdomen, or neck. Some people feel a painful lump or bump. Mostly such bumps or lumps or swelling may not be cancerous, but it’s always better to stand on the safer side. Hence, if you experience or feel any growths, bumps or lumps, don’t hesitate to consult a doctor and get properly diagnosed. Consulting a doctor is extremely important if you feel that your lump is larger than five centimeters or is causing pain and discomfort.

Desmoid tumors usually grow and develop in elastic, soft, flexible tissues or deep spaces. As a result, these tumors tend to push aside the surrounding normal cells out of their path of growth. In this way, the tumor can grow rapidly and appear as a large mass. 

The following are the signs and symptoms of desmoid tumors.

The general symptoms and signs include:

  • Moderate to the extreme pain
  • The presence of a lump, bump, mass or area has swelled up.
  • Nausea and cramping, especially when desmoid tumors develop in the abdomen.
  • The tumor affected area is losing its functions.
  • Soreness or extreme discomfort is caused when the tumor growth presses the nearby blood vessels, muscles and nerves.
  • Weakness 
  • Finding it challenging to move hands and arms
  • Tingling sensation or a feeling of pins and needles when the tumor presses the blood vessels or local nerves.
  • Difficulty to move legs and feet. People may start limping due to pain and the inability to walk properly. 

Desmoid tumors in the abdomen (Intra-abdominal desmoid tumors) can cause a specific set of signs and symptoms. They include:

  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Rupture of intestines

If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms of any other unusual change, be sure to consult a doctor and communicate about your symptoms and doubts. Your doctor will enquire about how long and how often you have been experiencing these signs or symptoms. The doctor may also ask other vital questions to clarify your disease condition. To detect tumors like desmoid tumors, proper diagnosis is required, and it plays a crucial role in treating and curing the disease condition.

If, upon diagnosis, desmoid tumors is diagnosed, managing and relieving symptoms and side effects remain an important, inevitable part of active treatment. This can be called palliative or supportive care. This is started soon after the disease is diagnosed and is continued throughout the disease treatment. Patients are encouraged to openly talk to their doctor or healthcare team regarding any sign or symptom or change they are experiencing, including any new signs or symptoms. This will help doctors or healthcare teams design the treatment plan as per the patient’s disease requirements.


  1. 1.
    Groen EJ, Roos A, Muntinghe FL, et al. Extra-Intestinal Manifestations of Familial Adenomatous Polyposis. Ann Surg Oncol. Published online July 9, 2008:2439-2450. doi:10.1245/s10434-008-9981-3