What is a Myxoid Liposarcoma?

D. Jeffress

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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Discussion Comments


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?


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.


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.


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


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?


@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.


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


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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