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Liposarcoma

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Apr 26, 2023.

Overview

Liposarcoma is a rare type of cancer that starts in the fat cells. It most often begins as a growth of cells in the belly or in the arm and leg muscles. But liposarcoma can begin in the fat cells anywhere in the body.

Liposarcoma happens most often in older adults, but it can happen at any age.

Liposarcoma treatment usually involves surgery to remove the cancer. Other treatments, such as radiation therapy, also may be used.

Liposarcoma is a type of cancer called a soft tissue sarcoma. These cancers happen in the body's connective tissues. There are many types of soft tissue sarcoma.

Liposarcoma

Liposarcoma is a type of cancer that starts in the fat cells. It happens most often in the muscles of the limbs or the abdomen.

Symptoms

Liposarcoma symptoms depend on the part of the body where the cancer forms.

Liposarcoma in the arms and legs can cause:

Liposarcoma in the belly, also called the abdomen, can cause:

When to see a doctor

Make an appointment with a doctor or other health care professional if you have any symptoms that don't go away and that worry you.

Causes

It's not clear what causes liposarcoma.

Liposarcoma starts when fat cells get changes in their DNA. A cell's DNA holds the instructions that tell the cell what to do. The changes turn the fat cells into cancer cells. The changes tell the cancer cells to grow quickly and make a lot of extra cells. The cancer cells keep living when healthy cells would die as part of their natural life cycle.

The cancer cells form a growth, called a tumor. In some types of liposarcoma, the cancer cells stay put. They continue making more cells, causing the tumor to get bigger. In other types of liposarcoma, the cancer cells might break away and spread to other parts of the body. When cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it's called metastatic cancer.

Diagnosis

Tests and procedures used to diagnose liposarcoma include:

Treatment

Treatments for liposarcoma include:

Preparing for an appointment

Start by first seeing your usual doctor or other health care professional if you have any symptoms that worry you. If you're diagnosed with liposarcoma, you'll likely be referred to a doctor who specializes in treating cancer, called an oncologist.

Because appointments can be short, and because there's a lot to discuss, it's a good idea to be prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready.

What you can do

Your time with your doctor is limited, so having a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. In general, focus on your top three questions. For liposarcoma, some basic questions to ask include:

In addition to the questions that you've prepared, don't hesitate to ask other questions during your appointment.

What to expect from your doctor

Be prepared to answer some basic questions about your symptoms. Questions might include:

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