Ford’s cancer: What is Pleomorphic Liposarcoma?

Sep 18, 2014 | News

By Ari Salas

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been publicly diagnosed with Pleomorphic Liposarcoma, a rare type of cancer.

What does Pleomorphic Liposarcoma actually mean?

Rob Ford at city hall.

Rob Ford at city hall.

Sarcoma means the cancerous tumor is growing in bone, fat and muscle tissue. Liposarcomas come from fat cells.

Only one per-cent of all cancers fall into the sarcoma category, reported The Toronto Star.

Pleomorphic cancers are made up of many different types of cancerous cells in the same tumour and are more difficult to treat because of this, said Dr. Zane Cohen of Mount Sinai Hospital.

“It has 60 different cell types,” said Cohen.

How rare is this form of cancer?

Although only one per-cent of cancer in adults are sarcomas nearly 21 per-cent of children’s cancers fall into this category, said The Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative of Ossining, New York.

Pleomorphic liposarcoma is the rarest of four subtypes of liposarcoma, said the website.

What are the chances of recovery with Pleomorphic Liposarcoma?

Recovery rates are about 50 per-cent if the tumour is surgically removed, reported The Toronto Star citing —-.

If the tumour has spread a cure is even less likely. Most of the tumour is in Ford’s abdomen but the nodule in his buttock is a bad sign, said The Star.

Is this cancer a result of lifestyle decisions?

Lifestyle is not considered a cause of the cancer. There is currently no known cause, said The Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative.

How will it be treated and how long will treatment last?

Treatment begins with chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumour and then surgery to fully remove it.

Radiation therapy is used to prevent recurrence and is successful in 85 to 90 per-cent of cases, said the Sarcoma Initiative.

Mayor Ford began the first of two chemotherapy treatments on Thursday. Each will last three days with an 18 day period in between.

“The response will then be reassessed with imaging. It may require further cycles of chemotherapy, there may or may not be radiation involved. There may or there may not be surgery involved,” said Cohen.

How will this effect Rob Ford’s work with the government?

When asked if the mayor will be able to keep up with his work Cohen said Ford is strong and will stay on top of things to a degree.

“Chemotherapy is chemotherapy and he’s going to have some tough days, but he’s going to have good days and bad days.”

What is cancer?

In 2011 there were a total 177,800 new cases of cancer in Canada, said CBC News Health.

Cancers develop when the DNA in normal cells becomes damaged. Cancer cells begin to multiply too rapidly and may form a mass of tissue called a tumour, said the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

When does a cancer become life threatening?

Tumours connect to the blood stream within the body to grow.

If allowed to grow they will spread through the bloodstream, attaching to important organs throughout the body. This is known as a malignant tumour. When tumours attach and grow the organ’s normal function is interrupted and the cancer becomes life threatening, said the University of California at Santa Barbara.

What can I do to reduce the chances of developing a cancer?

By living a healthy life the chances of cancer can be cut dramatically. By not smoking, eating well, drinking in moderation, staying active and protecting yourself from the sun you can reduce your cancer risk, said the Mayo Clinic website.