Tests and procedures used to diagnose liposarcoma include:

  • Imaging tests. Imaging tests create pictures of the inside of the body. They might help show the size of the liposarcoma. Tests may include X-ray, CT scan and MRI. Sometimes a positron emission tomography scan, also called a PET scan, is needed.
  • Removing a sample of tissue for testing. A procedure to remove some cells for testing is called a biopsy. The sample might be removed with a needle put through the skin. Or the sample might be taken during surgery to remove the cancer. The type of biopsy depends on the cancer's location.
  • Testing the cancers cells in a lab. The biopsy sample goes to a lab for testing. Doctors who specialize in analyzing blood and body tissue, called pathologists, test the cells to see if they're cancerous. Other special tests give more details. Your health care team uses the results to understand your prognosis and create a treatment plan.


Treatments for liposarcoma include:

  • Surgery. The goal of surgery is to remove all of the cancer cells. Whenever possible, surgeons work to remove the entire liposarcoma without damaging any surrounding organs.

    If a liposarcoma grows to involve nearby organs, removal of the entire liposarcoma may not be possible. In those situations, your health care team may recommend other treatments to shrink the liposarcoma. That will make it easier to remove during an operation.

  • Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy uses powerful energy beams to kill cancer cells. The energy can come from X-rays, protons or other sources. Radiation may be used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that remain. Radiation also may be used before surgery to shrink a tumor to make it more likely that surgeons can remove the entire tumor.
  • Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses strong medicines to kill cancer cells. Some chemotherapy medicines are given through a vein and some are taken in pill form. Not all types of liposarcoma are sensitive to chemotherapy. Careful testing of your cancer cells can show whether chemotherapy is likely to help you.

    Chemotherapy may be used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that remain. It also may be used before surgery to shrink a tumor. Chemotherapy is sometimes combined with radiation therapy.

  • Clinical trials. Clinical trials are studies of new treatments. These studies give you a chance to try the latest treatment options. The risk of side effects may not be known. Ask a member of your health care team whether you can participate in a clinical trial.

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Clinical trials

Explore Mayo Clinic studies testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this condition.

Preparing for your 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

  • Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet.
  • Write down any symptoms you have, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
  • Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • Make a list of all medicines, vitamins or supplements that you're taking. Know how much you take and when you take it. Also tell your doctor why you are taking each medicine.
  • Consider taking a family member or friend along. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the information provided during an appointment. Someone who goes with you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
  • Write down questions to ask.

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:

  • Do I have cancer?
  • Do I need more tests?
  • Can I have a copy of my pathology report?
  • What are my treatment options?
  • What are the potential risks of each treatment option?
  • Can any treatments cure my cancer?
  • Is there one treatment you think is best for me?
  • If you had a friend or family member in my situation, what would you recommend?
  • How much time can I take to choose a treatment?
  • How will cancer treatment affect my daily life?
  • Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
  • Are there brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
  • What would happen if I choose not to have treatment?

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:

  • When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • How severe are your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?

Liposarcoma care at Mayo Clinic

April 26, 2023
  1. Goldblum JR, et al. Liposarcoma. In: Enzinger and Weiss's Soft Tissue Tumors. 7th ed. Elsevier; 2020. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 26, 2022.
  2. Soft tissue sarcoma. National Comprehensive Cancer Network. https://www.nccn.org/guidelines/guidelines-detail?category=1&id=1464. Accessed Feb. 12, 2023.
  3. Mullen JT, et al. Clinical features, evaluation, and treatment of retroperitoneal soft tissue sarcoma. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Feb. 12, 2023.
  4. Ryan CW, et al. Clinical presentation, histopathology, diagnostic evaluation, and staging of soft tissue sarcoma. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Feb. 12, 20123.
  5. Ami TR. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic. April 5, 2023.
  6. Soft tissue sarcoma treatment (PDQ) — Patient version. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/types/soft-tissue-sarcoma/patient/adult-soft-tissue-treatment-pdq. Accessed Feb. 12, 2023.


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