A liposarcoma is a malignant tumor in the soft tissue. It shows histological characteristics of fat cell precursors and fat cells.
What is liposarcoma?
According to sportingology.com, liposarcoma first appeared in 1857 and was described by Rudolf Virchow. The tumor occurs on average between the ages of 50 and 70, but can also be observed in children and young adults.
Men are usually affected by a liposarcoma somewhat more frequently than women, but the rate is rather low. As a rule, the liposarcoma is only conspicuous in the advanced stage and then appears as a rather slow-growing, deep-lying tumorous tissue mass. The tumor usually occurs in the trunk, spine and chest, but can also affect the back of the abdomen.
Liposarcoma can also develop on the arms and legs. Metastases from the tumor are usually found in the lungs, but can also affect the peritoneum, diaphragm, and pericardium.
The causes of the development of a liposarcoma are largely unknown. In the meantime, however, it has been established that there is a connection between previous injuries or ionizing radiation (e.g. from previous radiation treatment).
The benign fatty tissue tumor, the so-called lipoma, is generally not a precursor disease, but in individual cases it can certainly lead to the development of a liposarcoma.
Genetic causes are now also under discussion, but this theory cannot be clearly confirmed. Regardless of the possible causes, most liposarcomas can be traced back to spontaneous development.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
A liposarcoma can cause a variety of symptoms. If the tumor is benign, there is usually only minor swelling in the area of the joints. These can disrupt movement, but are otherwise harmless. A malignant tumor is also initially manifested by a painful swelling that grows rapidly within a few weeks or months.
The swelling then persists and does not go away on its own. With increasing tumor size, movement restrictions often occur. In the further course, pain and an uncomfortable feeling of pressure in the affected area are added. In addition, general signs of illness can occur. Tiredness and limited physical and mental performance as well as disturbances of consciousness such as dizziness or visual disturbances are typical.
In addition, a slight fever sets in, in which the body temperature can rise to up to 38 degrees Celsius. Those affected often lose weight and subsequently suffer from deficiency symptoms, such as feelings of weakness and skin irritation. Externally, a soft-tissue tumor can manifest itself in the form of pallor and a generally sickly appearance. The symptoms usually develop over the course of months and are often only recognized when the liposarcoma has already grown considerably.
Diagnosis & History
The diagnosis of a liposarcoma is made using imaging methods such as computed tomography ( CT ), magnetic resonance imaging ( MRT ) and angiography or scintigraphy.
With these diagnostic tools, it is possible to at least estimate provisionally how far the tumor has already spread in the tissue. However, in order to be able to make a reliable diagnosis, a biopsy with subsequent histological examination by an experienced pathologist is necessary. The first symptoms such as exhaustion, tiredness, weight loss as well as nausea and vomiting can be the first signs of an illness, but are not clear indications.
The patient often shows swelling, especially on the arms and legs, which then leads to further examinations being initiated. In general, however, liposarcoma is recognized quite late. A liposarcoma is basically curable. However, recovery usually depends on the size and stage of the tumor. The possible formation of metastases also plays a role. If the conditions are good, however, the recidivism rate is rather low.
In the case of a liposarcoma, those affected suffer from strong growths. These can occur in different parts of the body and lead to aesthetic problems. It is not uncommon for patients to suffer from reduced self-esteem or from depression and inferiority complexes. It also leads to a significant exhaustion and tiredness of those affected.
Patients also continue to lose weight and suffer from vomiting or nausea. It is not uncommon for this to lead to weight loss or various deficiency symptoms. Swelling can also occur in the affected areas. In most cases, the diagnosis of the disease is made relatively late, so that treatment can usually only be started late.
This disease is treated with the help of radiation therapy. There are no particular complications. However, there is no guarantee that the treatment will actually lead to a positive course of the disease. Not infrequently, the liposarcoma leads to a significantly reduced life expectancy of the patient. Chemotherapy can also have various side effects. The further course also depends on whether metastases have formed in the body.
When should you go to the doctor?
Swelling of the joints or limitations in the usual range of motion must be examined by a doctor. If there are ulcers on the body, changes in the usual skin appearance or poor posture, a doctor must be consulted. Interruptions in the usual movement sequences, a crooked posture or restricted mobility must be examined and treated.
If pain occurs or if the symptoms increase in scope, a doctor should be consulted. If existing swellings increase, this is a cause for concern. A doctor’s visit should be initiated as soon as possible. In the event of disturbances in consciousness, increasing tiredness or dizziness, a doctor’s visit is necessary. Diffuse functional disorders, a general weakness or a decrease in the usual level of performance must be clarified by a doctor.
If you look pale, have problems with your blood flow or have a change in your heart rhythm, you should see a doctor. The affected person needs medical care so that there are no further complications or disorders. A feeling of tightness, digestive problems or weight loss are other indications that need to be examined by a doctor.
If you can no longer carry out your usual activities or leisure activities, if you experience shortness of breath or if you have a general feeling of illness, you should consult a doctor. If there are also psychological problems or behavioral problems, these observations should also be discussed with a doctor.
Treatment & Therapy
Once the findings and diagnosis have been completed, the treatment of the liposarcoma can begin. The design of the treatment depends on the stage of the tumor. The following applies here: The earlier the disease is detected, the more successful the therapy can ultimately be. In the case of highly differentiated tumors without the formation of metastases, only surgical removal of the tumorous tissue is possible. It is important that an appropriate safety distance is maintained and the tissue is completely removed, otherwise the probability of recurrence is high.
However, if the liposarcoma is very large and has also grown into other organs, only radiotherapy can help. With the help of radiation therapy, an attempt is made to reduce the size of the existing tissue in order to subsequently attempt to surgically remove the tumorous tissue. Even after an operation that has already been performed, radiation treatment may be necessary if the tumor had to be removed without the necessary safety margin.
The last and for the patient the most strenuous treatment of choice for the treatment of a liposarcoma is chemotherapy. It is only used when the disease is in an advanced stage and metastases have already formed. It is not only used for the general treatment of the tumor, but usually also alleviates the symptoms typical of the disease.
Outlook & Forecast
Liposarcoma occurs remarkably often in men over the age of 50. In almost half of the cases, it is located on the thigh. The chances of healing depend on the condition and extent. Furthermore, the prognosis influences whether metastases have formed. In all cases, more than 80 percent of those affected are still alive after the fifth year of diagnosis. In contrast, pleomorphic liposarcoma has the worst expected value. Only one in five survives the fifth year after the start of therapy. Some patients do not even notice the liposarcoma at first. The absence of symptoms poses problems for diagnosis and early therapy.
For complete and lifelong freedom from symptoms, it is crucial that the tumor is completely removed. If this is not successful, the tumor continues to grow. The start of treatment should not be delayed. Otherwise, the risk of metastasis formation, which primarily affects the lungs, increases. In practice, there is a high probability of relapse. Doctors therefore urgently recommend close follow-up care. After some time, a new liposarcoma can be detected in every second patient.
Unfortunately, doctors cannot give advice on how to prevent liposarcoma . The reason for this is that there is still a great deal of uncertainty about the development and causes of the tumor.
Those affected by the liposarcoma suffer from their external appearance. Therefore, follow-up care focuses on promoting a confident attitude towards the disease. The help of a professional psychologist can be supportive. This can sometimes also prevent the development of severe depression and other mental illnesses. There is constant tiredness and exhaustion, which is why those affected are dependent on the help of others in everyday life.
The exchange of experiences with others who are equally affected can help to better accept the suffering associated with the disease and thus improve the quality of life. The focus of aftercare is therefore primarily on reducing the mental stress caused by the symptoms and the ongoing treatment.
You can do that yourself
A liposarcoma should always be treated by a doctor. In addition to medical therapy, some home remedies and self-help measures can be used.
First of all, it is important to keep calm and follow the instructions of the responsible doctor. A liposarcoma can be treated well nowadays and should not completely dominate everyday life and thoughts. Distraction – be it going to the cinema or exercising – is the most effective way to get through cancer mentally well. Nevertheless, a tumor usually has an impact on the mental state. Those affected should therefore seek psychological counseling. Talking to other affected people, for example in a self-help group, also helps in dealing with liposarcoma and other cancers.
Exercise in the fresh air helps to reduce stress and can also positively support the healing process. After treatment is complete, the sufferer should pay close attention to possible warning signs. This allows early detection and treatment of a renewed illness. At the same time, a healthy and balanced lifestyle should be maintained, because avoiding environmental toxins, stress and the like effectively prevents tumors.