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Cancer (Oncology)

Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans

Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (also known as DFSP) is a type of skin cancer that grows from the fibrous tissue of the skin. It is an uncommon soft tissue sarcoma that is usually slow growing. However, if left untreated, it can invade deeper structures under the skin, such as fat, muscle, or bone. It rarely spreads to other parts of the body.

Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans commonly grows in an uneven finger-like fashion, infiltrating the deeper skin structures and tissue under the skin surface. As such, patients need close follow-up to monitor for recurrence following treatment.

Risk Factors and Prevention

DFSP has been reported in persons of all backgrounds and there is no known method to prevent it.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

DFSP may be found early through a routine skin-checkup by a health-care professional or through a self-exam. It may begin as a rather featureless, flesh colored or reddish brown patch then evolve to form bumpy nodules or scar-like areas. It is most commonly located on the chest, back, or stomach area although sometimes growth on the arms or legs can occur. Growth above the neck is rare.

Treatment

If DFSP is diagnosed, it can usually be removed by surgery. Surgical removal often includes wide excision or Mohs Surgery, a technique performed by highly trained doctors, in which the tumor is removed layer by layer, and microscopically examined during the procedure to ensure removal of the cancer but also preservation of the skin area.

Many tumors can be excised using a local anesthetic; others may need greater levels of anesthesia for removal. It is sometimes useful to take pictures of the structures inside the body using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to help view the extent of growth. Special medications or radiation may be used for large or oddly-situated tumors or on patients who cannot tolerate surgery. These can also be used after surgery as adjuvant (additional) therapy to kill any remaining cancer cells or to treat cancer that has spread to lymph nodes or other organs.

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