A lipoma is a fatty lump that forms under the skin due to the overgrowth of fat cells. Lipomas are also known as benign tumors. Many people misunderstand lipoma for cancer. But you should know that lipomas are usually harmless deposits of fats that can be removed through a minimally invasive procedure. 

Today, we will learn about the difference between a lipoma (benign tumor) and a malignant or cancerous tumor known as liposarcoma. 

What is a Lipoma?

Lipomas fall under the sub-category of benign tumors. They are non-cancerous lumps that are composed of fatty tissues. Lipomas grow beneath the skin and move around when touched. They feel squishy and soft when you touch and even the slightest pressure can move them.

What is a Tumor?

A tumor is a broad term that is used to describe the abnormal growth of cells in the body. When the tumor cells are normal, it is considered a benign tumor. But when the cells become abnormal and grow uncontrollably, they are considered cancerous cells, and the tumor is known as malignant. 

Can Lipoma be Cancerous?

No. A lipoma cannot be cancerous and they are rarely serious. Lipomas grow at a very gradual rate. So, eventually, after a few years, they may increase in size and become large enough to compress the blood vessels under the skin. To treat this, you may need surgical treatment. Otherwise, they are not dangerous or life-threatening at all. 

The type of cancerous lump that you should worry about is called liposarcoma. To make sure that you don’t confuse between lipoma and liposarcoma, let’s learn about the other condition too. 

What is Liposarcoma?

Liposarcoma is a malignant tumor that starts with fatty tissues similar to lipoma. It can also develop anywhere on the body. Malignant means that the tumor is made of cancer cells that can invade surrounding tissues. The cancer cells present in the lump may move into the bloodstream or lymph nodes and spread to other tissues and metastasize. This will increase the risk of cancer in other organs like breasts, lungs, reproductive organs, intestines, blood, and skin. 

What are the key differences between liposarcoma and lipoma?

As both Lipoma and liposarcoma originate from fatty tissues and appear like a lump, sometimes, it can be difficult to differentiate between them. 

The key distinction between lipoma and liposarcoma are given below: 

Lipoma Liposarcoma
Lipoma is a benign tumor.Liposarcoma is a malignant tumor,
Lipomas form just under the skin in the shoulders, neck, trunk, arms, etc. Liposarcoma forms deeper within the body and usually occurs in the abdomen or thighs.
Lipomas are soft tissues and moves easily with a touch of a finger.The lump formed due to liposarcoma is hard and immovable. 
Lipoma cells appear normal during a biopsy.liposarcoma cells appear abnormal as they are cancerous.
Lipomas grow at a very slow rate.Liposarcoma grows rapidly and spread to other parts of the body. 

In most cases, a biopsy or imaging test is required to clearly differentiate between the benign tumor (lipoma) and the cancerous tumor (liposarcoma). But there are other ways to identify these cancerous too. 

How to identify cancerous lumps?

The normal fatty lump of lipoma usually doesn’t have any symptoms unless it becomes huge in size and compresses the blood vessels. But with cancerous lumps, you will start noticing some symptoms like:

  • Fever 
  • Chills 
  • Night sweat 
  • Fatigue 
  • Weight loss 
  • Weight gain
  • Pain & swelling 
  • Feeling of fullness 
  • Constipation 
  • Breathing issues 
  • Bloody stools 
  • Vomiting 

The symptoms of liposarcoma are vast which makes them easier to identify. However, you should not self-diagnose yourself if you have any of these symptoms along with a lump. There is a slight possibility that some other condition may be causing a few of the symptoms. Therefore, it is better to consult a specialist and get their opinion on this matter. 

Who should I consult for lipoma treatment? 

Lipomas are treated by a plastic surgeon or a dermatologist. At Pristyn Care, we have an expert team of plastic surgeons who specialize in the treatment of lipoma. As these lumps can only be removed through surgery, they utilize advanced liposuction and gland excision surgery to remove the fatty tissues from under the skin. 

The Bottom Line 

Lipoma is not a life-threatening condition, but the term tumor connected with it makes people uneasy. Before you overthink about the fatty lump on your skin, make sure that you get properly diagnosed. If the lump is a lipoma, Pristyn Care can help you get rid of the lump in a safe and effective manner. But, if the lump is cancerous, then you will need to consult with a cancer specialist and get immediate treatment for liposarcoma.