Sarcomas arising in dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans: a reappraisal of biologic behavior in eighteen cases treated by wide local excision with extended clinical follow up

Am J Surg Pathol. 2000 Aug;24(8):1125-30. doi: 10.1097/00000478-200008000-00010.


There is a prevailing view that sarcomas arising in dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP) have a higher risk of metastasis than ordinary DFSP, but these data are based on cases with variable and often suboptimal treatment. There has not been a large study of sarcomas arising in DFSP in which all cases were treated by wide local excision, thereby arguably altering outcome. Clinicopathologic features of 18 cases of sarcomas arising in DFSP treated by wide local excision and having follow up of at least 5 years were analyzed. An estimate of the proportion of sarcoma and DFSP was made. The number of mitotic figures and degree of CD34 immunoreactivity were assessed in each case. The cohort included 13 females and 5 males (age, 23-87 yrs; median, 47 yrs). The tumors involved the trunk (7), scalp (4), extremities (4), and inguinal region (3), and ranged from 1.5 to 7 cm (median, 4 cm). Sarcoma occurred de novo in 15 cases and in a recurrence in three. Sarcomas resembled fibrosarcoma (17) or malignant fibrous histiocytoma (1) and occupied between 20% and 80% of the tumor (median, 60%). Mitotic activity ranged from 2 to 16 per 10 high-power field (HPF; median 7 per 10 HPF) in the sarcomatous component and 0 to 3 per 10 HPF (median, 1 per 10 HPF) in the DFSP component. All tumors expressed CD34 in the DFSP component but only nine (50%) in the sarcomatous component. All patients were treated by wide local excision with negative margins; three additionally received radiation. Four patients (22%) developed recurrences, but none developed metastasis during the follow-up period of 62 months to 17 years (median, 81.5 mos). In contrast to earlier studies, we demonstrate that patients with sarcomas arising in DFSP do not have an increased risk of distant metastasis within a 5-year follow-up period, provided they are treated by wide local excision with negative margins. This probably reflects the fact that wide local excision results in eradication of local tumor, thereby eliminating the source for subsequent dissemination. However, we cannot completely exclude the possibility that tumors in which clear margins are achieved represent a less aggressive subset, as has been suggested for high-grade extremity sarcomas. Previous studies showing increased metastasis for sarcomas arising in DFSP should be re-evaluated to determine if, with treatment stratification, metastatic rate varies.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigens, CD34 / analysis
  • Dermatofibrosarcoma / immunology
  • Dermatofibrosarcoma / pathology*
  • Dermatofibrosarcoma / surgery*
  • Female
  • Fibrosarcoma / immunology
  • Fibrosarcoma / pathology*
  • Fibrosarcoma / surgery*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin Neoplasms / immunology
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / surgery*


  • Antigens, CD34