Can Liposarcoma Be Mistaken For Lipoma?

Liposarcoma is a rare cancerous disease of connective tissues that is characterized by abnormal proliferation of fat cells into the deep soft tissues of thighs, legs, arms and abdomen. Lipoma is a non-cancerous tumor that comprises of fat tissue. They develop on the shoulder, upper back, arms, buttocks and upper thighs. Liposarcoma and lipoma are often confused with each other. They are differentiated from each other by skin biopsy and their symptoms. In this article, there is a discussion on their causes, symptoms, and other differentiating points.

Can Liposarcoma Be Mistaken For Lipoma?

Can Liposarcoma Be Mistaken For Lipoma?

Liposarcoma can be mistaken for lipoma as fatty tissues are involved in both of them. Both the conditions are different and have different manifestations on the body.


Lipoma is a benign tumor that is characterized by overgrowth of fat cells. They are not cancerous. In very rare conditions, they turn into a cancerous state. They are soft, small, rubbery and mobile lump found just beneath the skin. They rarely cause pain. They develop in a shoulder, arms, upper back, buttocks or thighs. They can be rarely found in deep tissues of shoulder, thigh or calf.

Lipomas can grow at any age more commonly in men than women. They are common in adults of age 40 to 60 years. The cause for the development of lipoma is not clear. Scientists say they may appear due to a genetic defect or due to family inheritance.

Lipomas are soft, rubbery and mobile tumors. They don’t hurt you as most of them are painless and they mostly do not grow in deep tissues.

A skin biopsy will confirm the diagnosis of lipoma. However, it is not required in most cases. The microscopic study reveals that they have a typical appearance and comprises many mature fat cells.

In most of the cases, surgical removal of a tumor is not required. Lipomas do not hurt much, so they can be left untreated, but regular check-ups are necessary to rule out any future complications.


Liposarcoma is a rare malignant cancer of connective tissues that arise from abnormal proliferation of fat cells into deep soft tissues. It usually develops in arms, thighs, gluteal region, retro peritoneum of the abdomen and rarely in head, neck and shoulder. It usually affects adults in the age of 40-60 years. However, it can also grow in children.

The causes behind the development of liposarcoma are not known. Researchers say that it may grow after a trauma or injury. Some genetic errors and mutations can also trigger liposarcoma. The risk factors for this cancer are damages in lymph nodes, positive family history, exposure to radiations and certain chemicals.

The symptoms of liposarcoma vary from person to person. It depends on the location and amount of pressure rendered by tumors on the adjacent areas. Its symptoms remain silent for a long time until a tumor becomes large in size to compress neighboring tissues or organs. Its symptoms include pain and swelling in the affected area, presence of new lump , enlargement of old lump, restricted movement of the limbs, nausea, abdominal pain, abdominal swelling, sensation of fullness in the abdomen soon after eating, vomiting, constipation, presence of blood in the stool, difficulty in urination, painful urination and pain in the chest.

MRI scan, CT scan, skin biopsy and other tests can diagnose this cancer. It is usually treated by surgical excision of the cancerous cells, but radiation and chemotherapy can also be used. Surgical excision is required in most of the cases.

Liposarcoma has a poor prognosis. It can return back even after successful treatment and may become life-threatening if they grow in vital organs.


Lipoma and liposarcoma are two different conditions of fatty tissues. Lipoma is a non-cancerous tumor that may not hurt in most cases. Liposarcoma is a more aggressive form of cancer than lipoma that develops from abnormal growth of fat cells in deep soft tissues and can be life-threatening.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 23, 2021

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