A liposarcoma is a malignancy that develops in deep soft tissue fat.
- Liposarcoma is a malignant tumor that arises from deep soft tissue fat.
- What triggers the development of liposarcoma is unknown.
- Liposarcoma risk factors may include radiation, family cancer syndromes, a damaged lymph system, and/or exposure to certain chemicals.
- Liposarcomas do not develop from common lipomas (benign tumors of fat cells).
- Signs and symptoms of liposarcomas vary. Many people do not feel sick or have pain. However, symptoms and signs may include the following, depending on the location of the tumor:
- X-rays, MRI, and/or CTs may help suggest a diagnosis that needs to be confirmed by biopsy.
- The world health organization (WHO) recognizes five subtypes of liposarcoma.
- Liposarcoma stages describe the extent of tumor spread with stage IV representing the most extensive cancer with metastatic spread.
- Liposarcoma treatments may consist of surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy. Some patients receive combinations of these treatments.
- The prognosis of liposarcomas vary with the type in the location of the tumors. Round-cell and poorly differentiated cell types have a poor prognosis with a survival rate of about 50% over five years.
- It is not possible to prevent a liposarcoma. At best, you can lower your risk of developing a liposarcoma by avoiding risk factors.
What is a liposarcoma?
Liposarcoma is a malignant tumor that arises from mesenchymal cells (specifically, abnormal fat cells in deep soft tissue that multiply in an unregulated manner), mainly affecting middle-age people at sites such as the thigh, gluteal region, retroperitoneum, and leg and shoulder area. Occasionally, the liposarcoma can become very large. For example, the news media has described a 30-pound liposarcoma removed from the abdomen of a 63-year-old man. Liposarcomas are one type of soft tissue sarcomas.
Liposarcoma Symptoms & Signs
Liposarcoma is a type of malignant tumor (cancer) that originates in fat cells in the deep soft tissues of the body.
Signs and symptoms of a liposarcoma depend on the size of the tumor and its location in the body. Depending on the exact location, the symptoms can be quite variable. Associated symptoms and signs may include a
- new lump anywhere on your body,
- an existing lump that grows persistently, or
- painful swelling or numbness in the area around a lump.
What are the causes of liposarcoma?
Liposarcoma cancer cells are similar to fat cells but are thought to develop from deeper fat tissues instead of superficial fat cells beneath the skin or mucous membranes. Although liposarcomas may develop almost anywhere in the body, most develop in the abdomen and limbs. Liposarcomas are rare. They represent less than 1% of all newly diagnosed cancers. Although it is not known what triggers the development of liposarcomas, they are usually noted after trauma when a "hard lump" develops and remains but trauma or injury is not a risk factor.
What are liposarcoma risk factors?
Risk factors for liposarcomas may include radiation, certain family cancer syndromes (for example, neurofibromatosis, Gardner syndrome), a damaged lymph system, and/or exposure to certain chemicals (for example, vinyl chloride, dioxin).
Liposarcoma vs. lipoma
Liposarcomas do not develop from common lipomas, which are benign tumors of fat cells.
What are liposarcoma symptoms and signs?
Many liposarcoma patients do not feel sick initially so the patients seek help only late in the disease process when other symptoms arise. Symptoms depend on the location of the tumor and the extent to which it has spread in the body. Symptoms and signs that may occur later in the disease can include
- painful swelling and/or a growing lump under the skin;
- enlargement of varicose veins;
- fatigue and/or weakness, especially of the affected limb;
- abdominal pain, although some patients have no pain, others can experience constipation, feeling of fullness sooner when eating, and/or blood in the stool (these symptoms are more likely to develop in patients with liposarcoma the forms in the abdomen);
- chest pain;
- urinary difficulty and/or pain;
- difficulty swallowing;
- vomiting; and
- decreased range of motion in the limbs.
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What is the prognosis of liposarcoma? What is the survival rate for people with liposarcoma?
The prognosis of liposarcomas varies with the type and location of the tumors. Extremity tumors that are appropriately treated have a good prognosis as do the well-differentiated types and myxoid type tumors. However, round-cell and poorly differentiated cell types have a poor prognosis with a survival rate of about 50% over five years.
As stated previously, if any mass or lump is noticed near or at a site of trauma, or if you develop any of the late symptoms of a liposarcoma described above, you should contact your doctor immediately. Many conditions other than malignant tumors can cause a mass or lump, and it is important to find out the cause so that appropriate treatment can be given.
Is it possible to prevent a liposarcoma?
Most liposarcomas develop in people with no known risk factors. Consequently, there is no way to prevent liposarcomas other than to avoid exposure to their risk factors listed above.