What Is Liposarcoma?

Liposarcoma treatment specialist in Los Angeles, CAIf you’re diagnosed with liposarcoma, you have a type of cancer that develops from fat cells –connective tissues that support and surround different organs in the body. Liposarcomas most often develop in the fat layer just below your skin, in soft tissues in the form of tendons, nerves, muscles, or fat, and commonly occur in the arms, belly, thighs, and behind your knee.

Liposarcomas are extremely rare, representing less than 1% of all newly diagnosed cancers. One of its more aggressive subtypes, pleomorphic liposarcoma, will have a rare chance of having a highly successful outcome once it’s spread. A Toronto-based news publication explains how the challenges in treating the cancer can be immense. In the report, medical oncologist at Washington University in St. Louis, Dr. Brian Van Tine says that the number one challenge is lack of research in rare tumors and funding research for rare tumors. Even if two new drugs that help extend life for up to 14-16 months in some patients were already approved, there is still “no real game-changer,” he shared. 

Because liposarcoma is a malignant tumor, this means it can spread to other areas, including vital organs. This also means getting treatment is a must. Dr. Daniel C. Allison is a renowned orthopedic oncologist in Los Angeles with comprehensive expertise in liposarcoma surgery. His ability to design a multidisciplinary treatment plan that is necessary for liposarcoma surgery makes him the ideal physician for anyone diagnosed with the condition. 

Types Of Liposarcoma

There are 4 types of liposarcoma, each with its own unique origin, characteristics, and behaviors:

  1. Well-differentiated liposarcoma / atypical lipomatous tumor – the most common subtype and most frequently diagnosed. It begins as a low-grade tumor that tends to grow or change slowly. It normally does not spread to other parts of the body.
  2. Myxoid liposarcoma/Round cell liposarcoma – the second most common subtype. It has a high-grade component and grows faster than well-differentiated tumors, making it more likely to spread to other parts of the body. 
  3. Pleomorphic liposarcoma – usually develops as a side effect of radiation treatment. It is a high-grade tumor and often spreads very quickly.
  4. Dedifferentiated liposarcoma – the least common subtype that occurs when an untreated well-differentiated liposarcoma develops to a faster-growing and more aggressive high-grade tumor.

The scope of these subtypes and their unique and intrinsic properties and characteristics poses another major challenge for the diagnosis and treatment of liposarcoma. Therefore, it is important to consult with a liposarcoma surgery expert such as Dr. Allison who is skilled and experienced in handling the complexities of the disease and is best qualified to treat this rare condition.

Symptoms Of Liposarcoma

Most liposarcoma patients will not exhibit any early symptoms. The condition can go unnoticed during its initial stages until the tumor has changed and grown enough to constrict surrounding tissues, decreasing their function and causing pain. Symptoms that may manifest will depend on the tumor’s location and the extent to which it has spread in the body. Signs and symptoms include:

  • A new or growing lump that will develop beneath your skin anywhere in your body, most especially in the thighs or behind or around your knees. It could also be an existing lump that is persistently growing.
  • The mass is usually painless, but pain, swelling, or numbness around the lump may occur
  • Weakness in the extremity that has the lump
  • Swelling in the extremity that has the lump

Who Is At Risk For Liposarcoma?

As a very rare type of cancer, experts do not know for sure how you can develop the disease. However, a few factors may increase your risk. Those who have certain genetic syndromes, a damaged lymph system, exposure to certain chemicals, and exposure to radiation are more likely to acquire the disease. Liposarcoma typically appears between ages 50 and 65.

Diagnosis of Liposarcoma

If soft tissue liposarcoma is suspected, MRIs and x-rays will be performed to aid in diagnosing the condition. An x-ray in particular, will help identify the calcification in the tumor as well as any damage to a neighboring bone. An MRI, on the other hand, will locate the tumor and reveal its size and appearance, assisting the doctor during the biopsy.

The location, size, and grade of the tumor, as well as the patient’s medical history and evaluation will influence the course of the treatment. 

If diagnosed at an early stage, liposarcoma can be treated with chemotherapy alone. But since the soft tissue tumor is often not detected until it’s grown into a larger, more aggressive grade, integrated methods will be required.  

Treatment For Liposarcoma

  • Surgery – the first step is removing all the cancer cells by surgically removing the tumor, usually with a margin of normal tissue surrounding the tumor, and is a mainstay for all liposarcoma cases.
  • Radiation – radiation therapy is usually recommended after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells after surgery or to help sterilize the margins prior to surgery. 
  • Chemotherapy –drugs can be used to kill cancer cells. However, chemotherapy drugs are not typically effective in treating all types of liposarcomas, especially low-grade types. Your pathologist will expertly analyze your cancer cells to determine if chemotherapy is likely to help you. Chemotherapy may be used before or after surgery and can be combined with radiation therapy.

You’ll be in great hands with Dr. Allison. Patients even travel from afar to receive the best care and treatment from an expert with extensive experience in treating liposarcoma. Dr. Allison will work with a team of liposarcoma surgery specialists to customize care, helping achieve the best overall patient outcome.

Schedule An Appointment With A Liposarcoma Specialist in Los Angeles, CA

To learn more about liposarcoma or to schedule a personal consultation with Dr. Allison, contact our Los Angeles office by calling (310) 730-8008 today.