What Is a Myxoid Liposarcoma?

D. Jeffress
D. Jeffress
Myxiod liposarcoma tumors usually appear in the fatty tissue of the thighs or upper arms.
Myxiod liposarcoma tumors usually appear in the fatty tissue of the thighs or upper arms.

A myxoid liposarcoma is an uncommon type of cancerous tumor that appears in fatty tissue. The majority of these tumors occur in the thighs or upper arms, though it is possible to have the cancer in another area of the body. They often form palpable lumps just underneath the skin that grow slowly over time. When one is detected in its early stages, surgery is usually very effective at eradicating the cancer. Late-stage tumors that have started to spread are typically treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Growing tumors can lead to bulging veins.
Growing tumors can lead to bulging veins.

Medical professionals are unsure what causes myxoid liposarcomas to form. Research suggests, however, that traumatic injuries, combined with predisposing genetic factors, contribute to their development. Most people who experience them are over the age of 50, and they appear to affect men and women at approximately the same frequency.

A tumor usually begins as a small collection of abnormal, yet benign, cells embedded in fatty tissue. The cells are more rounded and slightly larger than surrounding fat cells. Over the course of several years, the cells start to replicate and grow together to form a small lump. The condition becomes cancerous as cell replication starts to occur at a faster rate. A myxoid liposarcoma that is left untreated can potentially grow as large as 4 inches (about 10.2 cm) in diameter.

Most men and women who experience myxoid liposarcomas are over the age of 50.
Most men and women who experience myxoid liposarcomas are over the age of 50.

An individual who has a liposarcoma is unlikely to experience any physical symptoms until the tumor has already turned cancerous and started to grow. A soft, round, painless lump may appear under the skin on the thigh or arm. The physical presence of a lump does not normally result in any other symptoms, but a tumor that continues to grow may put pressure on nearby nerves or blood vessels and lead to numbness, bulging veins, or localized swelling.

A diagnosis of myxoid liposarcoma is usually confirmed when a pathologist finds cancerous cells in a biopsy.
A diagnosis of myxoid liposarcoma is usually confirmed when a pathologist finds cancerous cells in a biopsy.

A healthcare professional should be consulted at the first signs of an abnormal lump underneath the skin. After conducting a physical examination and asking about symptoms, a medical professional who suspects a myxoid liposarcoma can refer the patient to an oncologist for further testing. An oncologist typically takes an X-ray and a computerized tomography scan of the affected body part to carefully examine the tumor. He or she may also collect a tissue biopsy for laboratory analysis to confirm a diagnosis.

Late-stage liposarcomas are typically treated with chemotherapy.
Late-stage liposarcomas are typically treated with chemotherapy.

Most small liposarcomas can be removed by surgical excision. A combination of chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and surgery are used when the cancer spreads beyond the lump to affect surrounding tissue. Even after effective treatment, it is possible for a liposarcoma to return or for another lump to form in a different area of fatty tissue. It is important for a patient to schedule regular cancer screenings to ensure any subsequent problems are discovered and treated as early as possible.

Is Myxoid Liposarcoma Curable?

The prognosis for myxoid liposarcoma, or MRCLS, is largely dependent on when the cancer was first discovered, as well as other factors such as the location of the site, the size of the tumor, and the age of the patient. Currently, the five-year survival rate for a small tumor with no spread is 80%. While these are good odds, they are inversely proportional to the various risk factors a patient may have. Larger tumors, tricky sites, and older patients may not face the same positive statistics. If the entire tumor is successfully removed and there is found to be no spread, then the patient has been effectively cured of MRCLS. They will be monitored at annual checkups, but the person should be able to live a normal, cancer-free life.

Options for Treatment

The first step of treatment for MRCLS is usually surgery. If the tumor is not in a difficult place to remove, surgeons can likely remove the mass in one attempt. If they believe the tumor is too large, radiation may be used beforehand to shrink it and make it easier to extract. Similarly, if cancer cells are still found after the removal, radiation or chemotherapy can be used to help treat any spread. In addition to these aggressive methods, there are currently two FDA-approved pharmaceutical options available under the brand names Halaven and Yondelis. There are also many clinical trials being conducted across the United States to study liposarcomas and develop treatment options. If someone is facing a discouraging prognosis and has not seen success through conventional medicine, a clinical trial or alternative homeopathic methods may be worth exploring.

What is Myxoid Liposarcoma?

Myxoid Liposarcoma is a layered name. In order to understand MRCLS, you need a general understanding of the broad type of cancer it falls under. The word sarcoma refers to a cancerous tumor that has developed in a person's tissues. Sarcoma can be found in bone, muscle, or softer tissues like fat. Sarcomas that have grown in the fat tissue are known as liposarcomas. Liposarcoma is rare, occurring in about 2,000 people a year; most of these cases occur in people aged 40 and older. Myxoid liposarcoma is a type that is typically found in the limbs, starting as a mass in the fat of someone's arm or leg. While it may seem harmless initially, as the tumor grows, people might experience pain, exhaustion, nausea, and weight loss.

It is not yet known what causes MRCLS, but some researchers believe it is more likely to form at sites of trauma. Car accidents or sports injuries may leave permanent damage to fat tissue in the limbs, which could eventually develop into myxoid liposarcoma. While there is no definitive scientific evidence to support this link, it is a working hypothesis in the cancer research community. Having other diseases may also increase the risk for MRCLS, including Li-Fraumeni syndrome and neurofibromatosis.

How is MRCLS Diagnosed?

The main two methods of diagnosis for MRCLS are imaging and biopsies. A doctor may do an initial examination of the mass to see if they believe it could be a benign lipoma. From there, imaging is done through CT scans to determine the size and position of the tumor. If the doctor feels there is nothing to worry about and the tissue is not cancerous, the process will end there. Imaging technology can reveal the mass and its characteristics, but it cannot show whether or not the cells are cancerous. If the doctor feels there is cause for concern, they will conduct a biopsy. A biopsy is done by inserting a needle into the tumor and then, depending on the type of needle used, it will either draw out fluid and cells, or an entire core from the mass for lab analysis. Once the cells have been analyzed and compared to healthy, non-cancerous cells, a diagnosis will be made.

Does Myxoid Liposarcoma Spread?

Unfortunately, it is possible for myxoid liposarcoma to spread cancerous cells to other areas of the body. Metastasis is the term for new malignant growths away from the primary site of the cancer. Where metastatic sites crop up depends on the original site of the tumor. Other areas of soft tissue, as well as the lungs and the liver, are prominent areas of metastasis. Another risk with liposarcomas is their ability to regrow after treatment, even decades after remission. Someone who has had MRCLS at any point in their life should always be on the watch for metastatic growths or new sites of liposarcoma to appear. The best method of prevention is getting regular checkups with a respected oncologist.

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Discussion Comments

IPrint3D

I have an unnerving situation going on right now. About four months ago, I noticed a prominent lump/elongated, raised area on the top of the outside of my left thigh. It was about the size of the palm of my hand and oblong in shape (sort of flat across the top). It looks identical to the photo on this page of the lady's leg at the top, left of this page.

I showed my Family Practitioner and he ordered an ultrasound. After several weeks, I called to find out if they had the results yet. They did and the nurse simply told me that it was "negative for Lipoma", then she was quickly off the phone. No follow-up, at all.

So, I had an upcoming appt with my Dermatologist in a couple of weeks for an annual checkup, but in the time that had passed, I noticed another lump just above my right knee. This one is smaller, round and more rounded on the top (the other one in elongated and flattish on the top). I showed him the lumps, which had grown "thicker" and a little bit broader in the area covered. He seemed immediately "interested", if not concerned, and he sent a request for the ultrasound report for his own review.

It took several weeks for the report to "migrate" to his office from my Fam. Prac. doc, but when it made it to my dermatologist, he ordered an MRI of my lower extremities within fifteen minutes of receiving the report. During that time, both of these "lumps" have increased by, at least, 20% in overall size. The one above my rt knee is now visible 100% of the time (initially, it was only noticeable when my knee was bent and the skin was tightened) and it moves with the muscle when I bend/extend my leg.

Today, I was able to confirm an appointment for the MRI on June 5; one week from today. Is this the right track to be on, or should I also be trying to get an FNA biopsy scheduled/done? Am I right to be quite concerned? I'm 52 years old and my first wife was diagnosed with stage 4, metastatic breast cancer when we were 26; I lost her May 1, 2014, so I know about cancer, in general, and I know that it is not to be trifled with...am I overreacting?

anon334298

I am on my third tumor in as many years: one in my right thigh, one wrapped around my spine and one sandwiched between my heart and lung. After the second one, the doc said I was doomed to a wheelchair and eventual death. I didn't accept that. The docs, once prodded to act, did a wonderful job on me and I have a lot to be grateful for. Even though I am supposed to be paralyzed or dead, I am alive and kicking and I can walk (with a cane). Attitude is everything.

anon249933

I had a myxoid liposarcoma growing in my calf muscle. After a non-contrast doctors first said it was just a cyst. After enough prodding, they finally did a contrast-MRI that showed it was solid, followed by biopsy and excision and I'm now cancer-free.

It's cliche but doesn't get said enough: be your own health advocate. If I didn't push them to do more, I would still have that thing in my leg.

anon180821

I had 25 radiation treatments to shrink large tumor before removing it. All went well and now am cancer free. Still getting checked regularly.

anon179575

My husband had myxoid liposarcoma 10 years ago. He has been complaining of a bloated stomach and pain for the past two weeks. Is this something to worry about?

fify

@feruze-- I don't know about how many people are diagnosed with sarcoma in general but I know that liposarcoma is the most common type of sarcoma (it means tumor of soft tissue). And myxoid liposarcoma is the most common liposarcoma cancer. The information was in an article about myxoid liposarcoma.

bear78

Is sarcoma a rare cancer type? What's the chances of having it and is there a way to reduce the risks?

ysmina

My cousin has myxoid liposarcoma for the second time. The first one was in her leg and was cleared after chemotherapy and surgery nine years ago. It came back last year, this time in her hip.

Her treatment is going well, she is getting chemotherapy now. The doctors plan on removing the tumor after it shrinks a little bit. I hope everything will go smoothly. There is a risk that some nerves may be damaged during surgery but hopefully that won't be the case.

She is such a strong woman. She is still courageous and positive despite all she has gone through. She also has an online support group whom she chats with often, shares her experiences and gives and receives advice.

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    • Myxiod liposarcoma tumors usually appear in the fatty tissue of the thighs or upper arms.
      By: jolopes
      Myxiod liposarcoma tumors usually appear in the fatty tissue of the thighs or upper arms.
    • Growing tumors can lead to bulging veins.
      By: roblan
      Growing tumors can lead to bulging veins.
    • Most men and women who experience myxoid liposarcomas are over the age of 50.
      By: auremar
      Most men and women who experience myxoid liposarcomas are over the age of 50.
    • A diagnosis of myxoid liposarcoma is usually confirmed when a pathologist finds cancerous cells in a biopsy.
      By: luchschen_shutter
      A diagnosis of myxoid liposarcoma is usually confirmed when a pathologist finds cancerous cells in a biopsy.
    • Late-stage liposarcomas are typically treated with chemotherapy.
      By: nebari
      Late-stage liposarcomas are typically treated with chemotherapy.