Overview

Liposarcoma is a rare type of cancer that begins in the fat cells. Liposarcoma is considered a type of soft tissue sarcoma.

Liposarcoma can occur in fat cells in any part of the body, but most cases occur in the muscles of the limbs or in the abdomen. Liposarcoma occurs most often in older adults, though it can occur at any age.

Treatment for liposarcoma typically involves surgery to remove the cancer. Other treatments, such as radiation therapy, also may be used.

Symptoms

Liposarcoma signs and symptoms vary depending on the part of the body where the cancer forms.

Liposarcoma that forms in the arms and legs can cause:

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

Liposarcoma that forms in 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 your doctor if you have any persistent signs or symptoms that worry you.

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Causes

It's not clear what causes liposarcoma.

Doctors know that liposarcoma forms when a fat cell develops errors (mutations) in its genetic code. The mutations tell the cell to multiply rapidly and to go on living when other cells would die. The accumulating abnormal cells form a mass (tumor).

Several types of liposarcoma exist. Some grow slowly and the cells stay in one area of the body. Other types grow very quickly and may spread to other areas of the body.

Liposarcoma care at Mayo Clinic

Dec. 02, 2020
  1. Goldblum JR, et al. Liposarcoma. In: Enzinger and Weiss's Soft Tissue Tumors. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 28, 2017.
  2. Soft tissue sarcoma. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed March 28, 2017.
  3. Mullen JT, et al. Clinical features, evaluation and treatment of retroperitoneal soft tissue sarcoma. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 28, 2017.
  4. Ryan CW, et al. Clinical presentation, histopathology, diagnostic evaluation and staging of soft tissue sarcoma. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 28, 2017.
  5. Riggin EA. Allscripts EPSi. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 10, 2017.

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