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Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) Symptoms, Causes and Risk Factors

LAM can affect different organs and can cause a variety of symptoms, so it is sometimes difficult to diagnose.

What Are the Symptoms of LAM?

LAM may be suspected when a young female patient has any of the below symptoms. LAM may have a wide array of symptoms including:

LAM is most commonly detected when a younger woman develops a "pneumothorax", where the lung "pops" and air accumulates around the lung inside the chest wall, causing the lung to collapse. In patients with LAM, this occurs due to the bursting of the cysts that are formed in the lungs. Pneumothorax causes sharp chest pains and shortness of breath, which may be mild to severe. LAM can also be associated with accumulation of a milky fluid around the lungs called "chyle".

What Causes LAM?

LAM is caused by abnormal growth of the smooth muscle cells in the lungs. The triggers for this process are not well understood, but hormone therapy can aggravate the process.

What Are Risk Factors?

Although female hormones and pregnancy can aggravate LAM, this is not considered a cause or risk factor for the development of LAM. Often it is a result of a random genetic mutation or occurs in association with an inherited disorder such as TSC.

    This content was developed in partnership with the CHEST Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American College of Chest Physicians.

    Page Last Updated: March 13, 2018

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