• Liposarcoma in Children

    Liposarcoma is a malignant soft tissue tumor that develops in fat tissue. It’s most often found in the abdominal cavity or extremities, usually the thigh or upper arm, but it can be found anywhere in the body.

    • Liposarcoma tumors can exist for a long time before they are discovered.
    • Liposarcoma does not usually spread beyond its local location.
    • The cause of liposarcoma is unknown but has been linked to genetics and inherited diseases.
    • Liposarcoma is very rare in children, and is much more likely to occur in an adult. 
    • The three primary subtypes of liposarcoma include well-differentiated, which are low-grade tumors that may recur locally but don’t spread; myxoid, which are more common in children; and pleomorphic, which are aggressive and highly malignant.

    Liposarcoma Treatment at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's

    Children with liposarcoma are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's through our Bone and Soft Tissue Tumors Program. Our integrated pediatric oncology program offers the combined expertise of a leading cancer center and a world-renown children’s hospital.

    • We provide the full set of options that can be used to treat bone and soft tissue tumors, and our solid tumor treatment team can help you determine which option is best for your child.
    • Our pediatric oncologists have access to, and often lead, some of the most innovative clinical trials for soft tissue sarcomas, including fibrosarcoma.
    • Our surgeons have specialized expertise in complex surgeries, and our radiation oncologists have access to the newest radiation therapy techniques that may also be used in the care of a child with fibrosarcoma.

    What are liposarcoma symptoms?

    Because soft tissue sarcomas affect tissue that is elastic and easily moved, a tumor may exist for a long time before being discovered, growing large and pushing aside surrounding tissue. Liposarcoma symptoms vary greatly with the size, location and spread of the tumor, but may include:

    • painless swelling or mass anywhere on the body
    • pain or soreness caused by compressed nerves or muscles
    • limping or other difficulty using the legs, feet, arms or hands
    • diminished range of motion in the affected area

    How is liposarcoma diagnosed?

    In addition to a physical examination, a doctor may order the following to diagnose a liposarcoma:

    • X-rays, which produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which produces detailed images of organs and structures within the body and/or spine.
    • Computerized tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan) to capture a detailed view of the body, in some cases.
    • Biopsy or tissue sample from the tumor to provide definitive information about the type of tumor; this is collected during surgery.
    • Bone scan to detect bone diseases and tumors as well as to determine the cause of bone pain or inflammation.
    • Complete blood count (CBC), which measures size, number and maturity of different blood cells in a specific volume of blood.

    After all tests are completed, doctors will be able to outline the best treatment options.

    What are liposarcoma treatment options?

    Liposarcoma treatment 

    The treatment of liposarcoma depends on how far the disease has spread and how aggressive it is. Standard treatment is surgery to remove the entire tumor along with surrounding healthy tissue to ensure that no cancer cells remain.  Radiation therapy and  chemotherapy are used only if surgery alone is ineffective.

    Treatment for recurrent liposarcoma

    Local recurrence of the disease following surgical resection is common and may be avoided with adjuvant radiation therapy. The risk of recurrence increases with high-grade tumors.

    What is the long-term outcome for children with liposarcoma?

    Survival rates for liposarcoma vary widely, depending on the subtype. Myxoid tumors have a five-year survival rate of 80 percent, while aggressive pleomorphic tumors can have a five-year survival rate closer to 20 percent.

    Survivorship care

    Children treated for liposarcoma should visit a cancer survivorship clinic every year to:

    • manage disease complications
    • screen for early recurrence of cancer
    • manage late effects of treatment

    A typical follow-up visit may include some or all of the following:

    • a physical exam
    • laboratory testing
    • imaging scans

    Through our David B. Perini, Jr. Quality of Life Clinic, childhood cancer survivors receive a comprehensive follow-up evaluation from their cancer care team. In addition to meeting with your pediatric oncologists, your child may see one of our endocrinologists, cardiologists, neurologists, neuro-psychologists or alternative/complementary therapy specialists.

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