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.
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.
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 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.
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.