• Liposarcoma Overview

    Liposarcoma is a malignant soft-tissue tumor that develops in fat, most often in the abdominal cavity or extremities (thigh or upper arm). These tumors can exist for a long time before they are discovered. 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

    Patients with liposarcoma are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through the Bone & Soft Tissue Program. Continue reading to learn more about liposarcoma or visit the Bone & Soft Tissue Program homepage to learn about our expertise and treatment options for this condition.

    Symptoms and Diagnosis

    Children with inherited diseases like Li Fraumeni syndrome are at increased risk for developing liposarcoma.

    Because liposarcoma develop in tissue that is elastic and easily moved, these tumors may exist for a long time before a child is diagnosed with liposarcoma. In the abdomen, these tumors can grow quite large before they are found

    Common symptoms of liposarcoma include:

    • Painless swelling or mass anywhere on the body
    • Pain or soreness from compressed nerves or muscles
    • Limp or difficulty using the legs, feet, arms or hands
    • Diminished range of motion in the affected area

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

    • X-ray
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    • Computerized tomography (CT or CAT) scan
    • Bone scan
    • Blood tests, including complete blood count and blood chemistries

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

    Treatment & Care Options

    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.

    Progressive or Recurrent Disease

    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.

    Long-term Outlook

    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.