Fibrosarcomatous ("high-grade") dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans: clinicopathologic and immunohistochemical study of a series of 41 cases with emphasis on prognostic significance

Am J Surg Pathol. 1998 May;22(5):576-87. doi: 10.1097/00000478-199805000-00009.


The fibrosarcomatous variant of dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (FS-DFSP) represents an uncommon form of DFSP, in which the prognostic influence of the fibrosarcomatous component is still debated. We analyzed the clinicopathologic and immunohistochemical features in a series of 41 patients. Patient age ranged from 8 to 87 years (median, 48 years), and 19 patients were female. Twenty five lesions were seen on the trunk, 6 on the upper limbs, and 4 on the lower limbs, and five neoplasms were located in the head/neck region; in one case, exact anatomic site was unknown. Twenty seven tumors involved purely dermal and subcutaneous tissues, in 10 cases, deeper structures were also involved, 1 case arose in the breast, and, in 3 cases, it was impossible to define exact depth of the lesion. Preoperative duration ranged from 1 month to 60 years (median, 3 years). Twenty six tumors were excised locally with clear margins, 7 were treated by wide excision, 3 by incomplete excision, and, in 4 patients, the lesion was shelled out. In one case, exact treatment was unknown. In addition, radiotherapy was administered in three cases and chemotherapy in one case. Histologically, the lesions showed areas of typical, low-grade DFSP adjacent to fibrosarcomatous areas. In four cases, a previously ordinary DFSP recurred as pure fibrosarcoma, in two cases, local recurrence of FS-DFSP showed features of ordinary DFSP. Fibrosarcomatous change was more common in the primary (de novo) lesions than in recurrent lesions (3.6:1). Proportion of fibrosarcoma varied between < 30% in 6 cases to > 70% of tumor tissue in 21 cases. An abrupt transition between both components was seen in 19 cases. The fibrosarcomatous component showed focal necrosis in seven cases and showed a higher mitotic rate in comparison with ordinary DFSP areas (mean, 13.4 versus 2.3 mitoses in 10 high-power fields). Additional histologic features included progression to pleomorphic sarcoma in 2 recurrent cases, melanin-pigmented cells (Bednar FS-DFSP) in 1 case, focal myxoid change in 13 cases, plaque or keloidlike hyalinization in 3 cases, and myoid bundles and nodules in 9 cases. Immunohistochemically, tumor cells in DFSP areas stained positively for CD34, whereas, in FS-DFSP areas, only 15 out 33 cases were positive for CD34. Follow-up in 34 of 41 patients (mean, 90 months; median, 36 months) revealed local recurrence in 20 patients (58%) (recurrence occurred in 5 patients on two or more occasions). Metastases (5 lung, 1 bone, and 1 soft tissue) were seen in 5 patients (14.7%), and 2 patients have died of tumor to date (5.8%). Necrosis, high mitotic rate (> 10 mitoses per 10 high-power fields), and presence of pleomorphic areas in FS-DFSP tended to be related with poor clinical outcome, but no statistically significant association was detected. Fibrosarcomatous change in DFSP represents a form of tumor progression in DFSP and is associated with a significantly more aggressive clinical course than in ordinary DFSP, indicating a possible need for treatment intensification in such cases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigens, CD34 / metabolism
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Cell Division
  • Child
  • Dermatofibrosarcoma / diagnosis
  • Dermatofibrosarcoma / metabolism
  • Dermatofibrosarcoma / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / epidemiology
  • Prognosis
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Skin Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*


  • Actins
  • Antigens, CD34
  • Biomarkers, Tumor