Synopsis: A malignant tumor starting in fat cells in deep soft tissue, most commonly found in legs or thighs, but also found in abdomen, back, arms, chest, and neck.
Liposarcoma is a malignant tumor that arises in fat cells in deep soft tissue, such as that inside the thigh or in the retroperitoneum. It is most commonly found in your legs or thighs, but it can also be found in your abdomen, back, arms, chest, and neck.
Liposarcomas most often occur in people between the ages of 50 to 70 years old.
They are typically large bulky tumors which tend to have multiple smaller satellites extending beyond the main confines of the tumor.
Liposarcomas more commonly occur in an area of your body that has been injured.
You may be at a higher risk if have received radiation treatment in the past.
Liposarcomas, like all sarcomas, are rare - around 1 per cent of all cancers.
There is currently no data that links liposarcomas to alcohol, tobacco, or anything else, and obesity isn't a known risk factor either.
Several subtypes of liposarcoma exist Including:
Left thigh showing edema caused by liposarcoma
In the early stages, a sarcoma is small and does not produce symptoms. As the tumor grows, it may push aside normal body structures, causing symptoms. Liposarcomas are usually painless and slow growing. You may be able to see or feel it under your skin. You may have pain if your tumor grows and presses on your nerves and blood vessels. Retroperitoneal tumors may present themselves with signs of weight loss and emaciation and abdominal pain. These tumors may also compress the kidney or ureter leading to kidney failure.
Depending on where the tumor is, you may have any of the following:
A physical exam is the first step in the liposarcoma diagnosis process. Lumps that are 5cm or larger and deep-seated, firm and fixed to underlying structures are usually considered suspicious. Imaging tests are the next step and often include an X-ray and an MRI.
There are two main types of biopsy: a needle and a surgical biopsy. The location, incision and technical aspects of the biopsy can affect a patient's treatment options and outcome. Therefore, it is essential that the biopsy is planned by a surgeon or radiologist experienced with sarcomas. The results of the biopsy and imaging studies provide physicians with an idea of the extent of spread, or stage, of disease that can be used to create a treatment plan.
The prognosis varies depending on the site of origin, the type of cancer cell, the tumor size, the depth, and proximity to lymph nodes. Well-differentiated liposarcomas treated with surgery and radiation have a low recurrence rate (about 10%) and rarely metastasize. Five-year survival rates vary from 100% to 56% based on histological subtype.