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Malignant lipoma: causes, symptoms and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

A lipoma is a mass or lump formed by the accumulation and abnormal growth of fatty tissue. You’ll find it most often located on the back, shoulders, neck, and elbows, but it could appear anywhere on your body.

The lipoma is a benign tumor that is not painful, is sometimes mobile, has a variable size, and grows without producing any change at the skin level since it grows below it. When we speak of “malignant lipoma,” we mean a specific type of malignant tumor called liposarcoma.

In this FastlyHealarticle, the information regarding malignant lipoma, its causes, symptoms, and treatment.

What are malignant lipoma and their types?

Malignant lipoma or liposarcoma is a type of cancer. Unlike the typical lipoma, which is only fat, a malignant lipoma can be composed of nerves, muscles, and tendons, apart from fat. In this other FastlyHealarticle, you can learn more about what is a lipoma, its causes, and its treatment.

In addition, unlike the previous one, it appears preferably in the lower limbs and the abdomen.

Types of liposarcoma

There are four types of liposarcoma or malignant lipoma:

  • Well-differentiated, the most common (50%).
  • Myxoid, which produces mucus.
  • Pleomorphic, the most aggressive type.
  • Dedifferentiated, which is at high risk of metastasis.

It does not have a preference for any specific sex, but it is most common between 50 and 65.

Malignant lipoma causes and risk factors

There are no definite causes for the appearance of liposarcoma. However, several risk factors have been described that predispose to malignant lipoma development. Among the predisposing factors to liposarcoma, we can mention:

  • Some types of cancer present as a familial occurrence: neurofibromatosis, Gardner syndrome, etc.
  • Exposure to ionizing radiation, especially in personnel handling radio diagnostic and radiotherapy equipment.
  • Injuries or conditions that affect the drainage of the lymphatic system. One of the signs that indicate that there are problems in the functioning of this system is the inflammation of the lymph nodes and, therefore, in this other article, we will talk about this other problem.
  • Exposure to some chemicals such as vinyl chloride, dioxin, etc.

The previous presence of lipoma does not condition its subsequent evolution to a malignant lipoma.

Symptoms of a malignant lipoma

Unlike the typical lipoma, which is usually asymptomatic, the patient with a malignant lipoma may present with symptoms such as the following:

Limb liposarcoma symptoms

  • Localized pain or that involves the limb where it is located.
  • Inflammation, showing the area red, hot and bright.
  • Fatigue or weakness may be generalized but occurs predominantly in the involved limb.

Symptoms of abdominal malignant lipoma

Liposarcomas that appear in the abdomen can manifest with:

  • Due to the occupation of space, Constipation makes it difficult to move the stool.
  • Blood in the chair, from bleeding from the tumor itself, if it involves the wall of the intestine.
  • Vomiting, if there is compression of intra-abdominal structures.
  • Feeling fullness, eating and feeling full immediately, despite little intake.
  • Weight gain due to the growth of the tumor itself.

Malignant lipoma treatment

The treatment of malignant lipoma includes surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. It is vital to see a doctor at the first symptoms that we detect so that, in this way, a diagnosis can be made after the relevant tests and, in the case of liposarcoma, to decide which treatment is better.


It is the main treatment option, and the immediate indication after diagnosis since it can sometimes mean the definitive cure, depending on the advancement of the tumor at the time of resection of the tumor.

The objective of the surgery would be to remove all the tumor tissue and neighboring tissues that are compromised to the extent that this is possible.


It would be the second line of treatment for malignant lipoma, and it can be used before or after surgery.

  • Before surgery: It is done to reduce the size of the tumor and thus confine it to a more limited location for later surgical removal.
  • After the operation: in case all the compromised tissue could not be removed at the time of surgery, to guarantee its total eradication.


Its routine application is still controversial, and there are no definitive agreements in this regard, even though various drugs would have specificity for this type of cancer. Most researchers consider that chemotherapy for the treatment of liposarcoma is still in the experimental stage.

Anthracycline has been used without much success. In those cases where tumor resection is not possible or where there are metastases, some drugs have been used with variable success. For these cases, eribulin mesylate or Trabectedin would be indicated.

This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor if you present any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Malignant Lipoma: causes, symptoms, and treatment, we recommend that you enter our Skin, hair, and nails category.

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