Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans in Children

Curr Treat Options Oncol. 2022 Jun;23(6):843-854. doi: 10.1007/s11864-022-00979-9. Epub 2022 Apr 8.


Paediatric dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP) is a rare soft tissue malignant tumour which displays aggressive local behaviour and has low metastatic potential. The diagnosis is often delayed as DFSP is usually mistaken for other skin conditions, particularly in the early stages of disease. DFSP tends to follow an indolent course after the initial presentation with what is often described as a "rubbery lump". As the disease progresses, the lump tends to enlarge, change colour, and exhibit a more nodular consistency. In rare cases, DFSP can present as an ulcerated exophytic lesion or a depressed area of skin, making diagnosis even more challenging. A high index of suspicion is warranted for early diagnosis, and referral to a specialist unit with expertise in both oncologic resection and reconstruction. DFSP tumours arise from the dermis and grow with finger-like projections. Therefore, in cosmetically sensitive or functionally important locations, an excision and analysis technique that assesses all excision margins is the gold standard of care. Slow Mohs technique performed with en bloc excision is a well-tolerated option for oncologic resection of the tumour. Mohs technique can also be considered but can be challenging in children for reasons explained below. As an alternative, depending on the anatomical location, tumours can be excised with a wide local excision. While an excision technique that incorporates the deep fascia with a 3-cm peripheral margin is acceptable in adults, planning of the excision margin in children should involve consideration of preoperative imaging with MRI, site of the tumour, age, and physical built of the child. Patients should be offered all treatment options considering the local outcomes, available expertise, and cost. A multidisciplinary approach and good communication between team members is crucial. Close collaboration with a pathologist who is familiar with sectioning technique that allows margin control is of paramount importance. Soft tissue reconstruction should be performed immediately after oncologic clearance, although a staged approach may be required. Adjuvant radiotherapy should be avoided in children due to the long-term risk of secondary malignancies and potential for growth disruption.

Keywords: Cutaneous surgery; Dermatofibrosarcoma; Paediatric dermatofibrosarcoma; Skin tumours; Soft tissue sarcoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Dermatofibrosarcoma* / diagnosis
  • Dermatofibrosarcoma* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Margins of Excision
  • Mohs Surgery / methods
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Skin Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms* / surgery