What is the prognosis of dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP)?

Updated: Mar 06, 2020
  • Author: Raman K Madan, MD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP) is characterized by its aggressive local invasion. The tumor invades local tissue by extending tentaclelike projections underneath healthy skin, rendering complete removal of the tumor very difficult. Incomplete removal of these neoplastic cells results in a high local recurrence rate.

Despite the local invasiveness, DFSP rarely metastasizes. For the classic form of DFSP, the risk is assumed to be only 0.5%. According to the literature, the overall risk for the development of metastatic disease is 5%, including 1% with regional lymph node metastasis and 4% with distant metastasis. Regional lymph node involvement represents a sign of poor prognosis; most patients die within 2 years. [8] The lungs are the most common site of distant metastasis that occurs via hematogenous spread. Usually, metastatic disease is preceded by multiple local recurrences. [14]

A small subset of DFSP patients presents with fibrosarcomatous progression. This fibrosarcomatous progression DFSP variant is more aggressive in nature, and the clinical outcome usually is poor. [15]

The extent of surgical excision determines the prognosis for the patient. To reduce the local recurrence rate, a wide surgical excision with adequate margins or Mohs technique are used. The latter imparts a better outcome.

Histologic features of DFSP may also serve as prognostic indicators. A high number of mitotic figures, increased cellularity, DNA aneuploidy, TP53 gene overexpression, and the presence of fibrosarcomatous changes within the tumor are poor prognostic indicators. Of note, fibrosarcomatous variants of DFSP lacking a genetic marker of translocation between chromosomes 17 and 22 may not respond to imatinib. The loss of the t(17,22) cytogenetic marker in the fibrosarcomatous progression DFSP variant may represent progression of the malignancy. [1, 16, 17]

Age older than 50 years is also a risk factor associated with a poor clinical outcome. [18]

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