Liposarcoma is a rare type of soft tissue sarcoma wherein the proliferation of the cancer cells usually happens in the fatty tissues. Although this type of cancer can occur in the fat cells in any part of the body, it especially occurs in the muscles of the limbs or the abdomen. The liposarcoma cells are often misconstrued as lipoma as both originate in fatty tissues but the biggest difference is that lipoma is noncancerous (i.e. benign) and liposarcoma is cancerous (i.e. malignant).
Liposarcoma can be categorised into five distinct types including:
Well-differentiated Liposarcoma: It is the most common type of liposarcoma that is slow-growing in nature and doesn’t spread to other tissues or organs.
Myxoid Liposarcoma: The second most common type of liposarcoma in which the tumour cells can form a unique shape or pattern. It usually grows faster than the well-differentiated type and has the ability to spread to other parts of the body.
Round Cell Liposarcoma: These type of liposarcoma cells grow and spread faster than the first two types and are generally found in the arms or legs.
Pleomorphic Liposarcoma: It is quite a rare form of the cancer and often spreads aggressively to other cells and tissues.
De-differentiated Liposarcoma: This type of liposarcoma usually originates as a slow-growing one and with time gradually becomes a more aggressive form of liposarcoma.
Just like other forms of cancer, the exact cause of Liposarcoma is yet unknown. However, studies suggest that it usually happens when there are certain changes or mutation in the cellular material, i.e. the DNA of the fat cells, that invariably make the cells to grow abnormally without dying and causing them to bundle up leading to tumorous growths. There are different types of liposarcoma, while some grow slowly and doesn’t spread much, others metastasize aggressively and spread to other parts of the body.
Some causative factors that increase the risk of liposarcoma include:
Age: Although it can happen at any age, but it is mostly noticed in older people.
Previous Cancer Treatments: People who have been exposed to radiation therapy for other types of cancer have more risks of getting liposarcoma as well.
Exposure To Chemicals: Long-term exposure to toxic chemicals like vinyl chloride aggravates the risk of developing this type of cancer.
Lymphatic Damage: Suffering from a disease that has caused lymphatic damage increases the risk of liposarcoma.
Family History: People who have a family history of soft tissue sarcoma or other forms of cancer are more prone to liposarcoma.
Liposarcoma usually doesn’t show any symptoms in the early stage apart from a lump in the fatty tissues. The common signs and symptoms in the later stage include:
If the liposarcoma arises in the abdomen, it usually characterizes the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Feeling full sooner when eating
- Blood in stool
- Blood in vomit
A tumour in the arm or leg is usually characterized by:
- Weakness in the affected limb
- Decreased range of motions
Diagnosis And Treatment
If you notice any of the above-mentioned signs or symptoms, do consult a doctor right away to get diagnosed and treated at the earliest. The doctor usually does a thorough physical check-up to look for any lumps or masses on the fatty areas of the body to know if it pains, acknowledges the patients past medical history and exposure to any treatments and conducts some diagnostics. These include:
- Imaging techniques including CT-scan, MRI-scan, X-ray, and Ultrasound
The available treatment options usually depend on the location, size, type of liposarcoma, the particular stage it is in and the overall health and capacity of the patient. This includes:
- Radiation therapy
- Clinical trials