Sarcoma and carcinoma, both the terms are used for cancer. But, there is a difference between the two. And the difference is in the site where they occur. A carcinoma is a cancer of tissue cells lining of our body’s internal organs, like lungs and liver whereas, a sarcoma is a cancer occurring in the body’s connective tissue. Connective tissue is nerves, blood vessels, fat, muscles, bones etc.
How Common is Liposarcoma?
Carcinomas are more common compared to sarcomas. A sarcoma occurs fairly rare and liposarcoma is even rarer. Out of the numerous cancer cases diagnosed each year, a very few belong to the category of sarcomas and even fewer fall into the category of liposarcoma. As a result, it is particularly seen that sarcomas are difficult to treat and cure, compared to carcinomas.
Liposarcoma is seen more in adults aged forty years and above. Liposarcoma is a malignant tumor of the soft tissue fat. The reason for the development of liposarcomas is unknown. Sometimes, an exposure to radiation might be the history behind the occurrence of this cancer. Some others put a doubt on a family history of cancer syndromes. Some even blame certain chemicals for causing this cancer.
Symptoms of Liposarcoma
The signs and symptoms of the people suffering from this cancer vary considerably. It basically depends upon the site of the origin of the tumor and how far it has spread in the body. The progress of the disease decides what organs will be affected, apart from the actual site where it is originated. And that in turn will decide the symptoms this cancer will be exhibiting.
Liposarcoma is generally known to occur in abdomen or in limbs. If it develops in the limbs, the general symptoms may include a soft lump or a swelling, weakness of that limb, severe pain due to the compression of a nearby nerve, restriction in movements due to the severe pain and sometimes varicose veins even. If a liposarcoma develops in the abdomen, the symptoms usually show weight gain, which doesn’t seem very abnormal, as the tummy looks as if it is bulging due to normal weight gain. But in fact, it is the tumor which grows and causes the weight gain. If it grows too much, it may hinder the normal functioning of the organs in the abdomen. It may affect the functioning of the kidneys, if it grows into the retro-peritoneum. The person can suffer from difficulty in urinating and severe pain because of the compression of the ureters. There may be kidney failure. There may be symptoms related to digestive system, such as loose motions or constipation.
Diagnosis of Liposarcoma
The liposarcoma diagnosis usually includes physical examination first, wherein the size of the tumor, whether it is deep or superficial, whether it moves or is firm, is it hard or soft, all these parameters are gauged. If the doctor finds any of the suspicious signs, he may recommend imaging techniques, like X-rays, CT scan and MRI. After the imaging, the histopathological intervention has to be done, which means there is a call for biopsy. Here again, the specialist will decide upon the type of biopsy to be done (whether needle biopsy or surgical biopsy). The type of biopsy influences the course of treatment and the level of prognosis.
Once the liposarcoma is confirmed, the oncologist who specializes in liposarcomas will decide on the proper treatment, which may be any one of the three primary methods- surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy; or a combination of two or more than two treatments.
Liposarcoma is a rarest of the rare cancer type. It is not that common. The prognosis of liposarcoma largely depends upon the type of liposarcoma, the site of its development and the stage it has progressed to. Due to the heavy chances of recurrence of this cancer, it is necessary to monitor these cases very frequently after the completion of the treatment, and throughout their lives.