What resources are available to support people making treatment decisions for liposarcoma?

The Sarcoma Alliance was founded by sarcoma survivors to help guide, educate and support people with sarcomas. Because sarcomas are rare, and because there are many different types of sarcomas, it is difficult for patients to find understandable information about them. The Sarcoma Alliance provides such information, serving patients and health professionals in the U.S., Canada, and throughout the world.

Sarcoma Alliance
775 E. Blithedale #334
Mill Valley, CA 94941
Telephone: (415) 381-7236

Last updated on 05-01-20

What is liposarcoma?

Liposarcoma is a tumor that arises from fat tissue. This tumor often occurs in the thigh, legs, behind the knee, or in the abdomen, but it can be found in other parts of the body, in the retroperitoneum; and, less often, in the head and neck area. Their primary occurrence in the skin is rare. Because a liposarcoma may grow into surrounding tissues or organs, it is considered a malignant tumor. The World Health Organization classification of soft tissue tumors recognizes 5 types of liposarcomas: Well differentiated, which includes the adipocytic, sclerosing, and inflammatory subtypes; dedifferentiated; myxoid; round cell; and pleomorphic. Most patients with liposarcoma have no symptoms until the tumor is large and invades the neighboring organs or tissues, causing tenderness, pain, or functional problems. Although surgical removal of the tumor is the curative treatment, some patients may benefit from chemotherapy and radiation.

Most patients with liposarcoma have no symptoms until the tumor is large and impinges on neighboring structures, causing tenderness, pain, or functional disturbances. In the retroperitoneal area, where liposarcoma is detected at a late stage, the tumor may grow to a substantial size, weighing several pounds at the time of diagnosis. In general, liposarcoma grows silently, and the patient's estimation of the clinical duration is often unreliable. The patient eventually becomes aware of a swelling or a mass and reports this finding to the physician.

Patients may report the following:

  • Associated episode of trauma to the region containing the mass

  • Painful swelling (occurs in one third of cases for as long as 6 mo)

  • Decreased function (ie, range of motion)

  • Numbness

  • Enlargement of varicose veins

  • Fatigue

  • Abdominal pain

  • Weight loss

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

Last updated on 05-01-20

How might liposarcoma be treated?

The treatment for liposarcoma depends on the type, size, and location of the tumor. Surgery to remove the tumor is often the first treatment. When the tumor is in the abdomen, it may be difficult to remove completely, especially if the tumor is growing near important organs that cannot be removed. If the entire tumor cannot be removed during surgery, radiation therapy may be used after surgery to kill any cancer cells that remain to reduce the chance of the tumor coming back (a recurrence). Chemotherapy is another treatment that can kill remaining cancer cells following surgery, though it is not usually used to treat low-grade sarcomas.

Sometimes radiation therapy or chemotherapy may be done prior to surgery to shrink the tumor; this may increase the chance of removing the whole tumor during surgery while limiting the impact to other organs.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Name: The Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative 17 Bethea Drive
Ossining, NY, 10562-1620 , United States
Phone: 914-762-3251 Url:
Name: Sarcoma Alliance for Research through Collaboration SARC 24 Frank Lloyd Wright Drive Lobby A, Suite 3100
Ann Arbor, MI, United States
Phone: +1-734-930-7600 Fax : +1-734-930-7557 Email: Url:

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The RareGuru disease database is regularly updated using data generously provided by GARD, the United States Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center.

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