09/17/2014 05:51 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:57 EDT

Rob Ford's tumour type rare; makes up only one per cent of all cancers

TORONTO - Five things you ought to know about liposarcoma:

BIOLOGY: Liposarcoma is a cancer of the soft tissues of the body. Soft tissue includes muscles, tendons, connective tissues, fat, blood vessels, nerves and joint tissue. The cause of this type of cancer isn't known.

STATS: This is a rare cancer, making up only about one per cent of all cancers, according to the physician overseeing Mayor Rob Ford's care, Dr. Zane Cohen. Cohen said he could not give an estimate of the percentage of people with this cancer who survive five years, the standard benchmark for cancer survival.

DETECTION: There would be no detectable symptoms early in the growth of this cancer. As it expands, though, it can push aside normal body structures and that can cause symptoms. Ford's main tumour was estimated to be about 12 centimetres by 12 centimetres, which was described as relatively large. When these tumours develop in the abdomen, as Ford's has, they can eventually cause abdominal pain, vomiting and constipation.

TREATABILITY: Cohen said Ford's doctors were optimistic about his prognosis.

TREATMENT: The first tool that will be used is chemotherapy. Ford will receive three days of drugs, followed by 18 days off and then the cycle will be repeated. Doctors will then assess the tumour's response to the drugs. Cohen said surgery and/or radiation may also be used.