Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans: how wide should we resect?

Ann Surg Oncol. 2010 Aug;17(8):2112-8. doi: 10.1245/s10434-010-1046-8. Epub 2010 Mar 31.


Background: Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP) is a rare dermal tumor with local recurrence rates ranging from 0 to 50%. Controversy exists regarding margin width and excision techniques, with some advocating Mohs surgery and others wide excision (WE). We reviewed the experience in two tertiary centers using WE with total peripheral margin pathologic evaluation.

Materials and methods: Institutional Review Board approved retrospective review of patients with DFSP from 1991 to 2008. Patients had initial WE using 1-2 cm margins with primary or delayed closure; further excision was done whenever feasible for positive margins. Pathologic analysis included en face sectioning. We evaluated margin width, number of WE, reconstruction methods, radiation, and outcomes.

Results: A total of 206 DFSP lesions in 204 patients (76 males, 128 females), median age 41 years (range 1-84) were treated. Locations were trunk (135), extremities (43), and head and neck (28). The median number of excisions to achieve negative margins was 1 (range 1-4) with a median excision width of 2 cm (range 0.5-3 cm). Closure techniques included primary closure (142; 69%), skin grafting (52; 25%), and tissue flaps (9; 4%). There were 9 patients who received postoperative radiation, 6 for positive margins after maximal surgical excision. At a median follow-up of 64 months (range 1-210), 2 patients (1%) with head and neck primaries recurred locally.

Conclusions: Using a standardized surgical approach including meticulous pathologic evaluation of margins, a very low recurrence rate (1%) was achieved with relatively narrow margins (median 2 cm), allowing primary closure in 69% of patients. This approach spares the additional morbidity associated with wider resection margins and in our experience represents the treatment of choice for DFSP occurring on the trunk and extremities.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dermatofibrosarcoma / pathology
  • Dermatofibrosarcoma / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult