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

Liposarcoma in the arms and legs can cause:

  • A growing lump of tissue under the skin.
  • Pain.
  • Swelling.
  • Weakness of the affected limb.

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

  • Abdominal pain.
  • Abdominal swelling.
  • Feeling full sooner when eating.
  • Constipation.
  • Blood in stool.

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.

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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.

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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