What is Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans & What Does It Look Like?
Dermatofbrosarcoma Protuberans, also known as DFSP, is an uncommon soft-tissue tumor that develops in the skin. DFSP skin cancers develop in the middle (Dermis) layer of skin and can push through to the top layer of skin. It can start as a small bump or tough patch on the skin surface. Over time, these tumors can appear purplish, red or pink in color. “Patients often believe these tumors are scars or keloids, because of their appearance on the skin,” says Dr. Adam Mamelak, dermatologist and skin cancer expert in Austin, Texas. These tumors can sometimes crack or bleed. This is around the time when one would notice and have a concern. The tumor tends to grow very slowly and can take months, or years, to become visibly concerning.
Where Do They Appear?
DFSP tends to take place on any part of the body but is most commonly develops on the chest, back, shoulder, abdomen, and/or buttocks. It is also sometimes found on the arms or legs. Under the microscope, the tumor appears as a growing mass that often has fine extensions or “tentacle-like arms” that begin to wrap around fat, muscle or even bone.“Performing regular skin checks is recommended to detect skin cancer. This is the best way to notice any new growths or textural changes on the skin,” says Dr. Mamelak. “If you see something new, something suspicious, get it checked out.”
Who Can Get DFSP?
Although it tends to be most common in those between 20-50 years of age, anyone is capable of being diagnosed with DFSP. Women and African-American individuals tend to have a higher risk of this cancer.
What Causes DFSP & Is It Dangerous?
There are speculations about what cause this type of cancer, but there has not been one pinpointed cause for the cancer.
“As with all cancers, there is always an urgency and great concern for your health and safety, but DFSP is a slow growing tumor and has less than a 5% chance of spreading to other parts of the body,” states Dr. Mamelak. “This allows doctors to catch and contain the tumor, and treat it so it is unlikely to return.”
How Do You Know If Your Skin Lesion Is A DFSP?
Your dermatologist will take a skin biopsy to determine if the growth or skin contains the cancerous cells, and then you will discuss further actions upon obtaining that knowledge.
How Can It Be Treated?
There are a number of treatment options for DFSP. Traditionally, surgical excision with a wide surgical margin has been used to remove the tumor from the skin. Radiation therapy has also been used as an adjuvant therapy in some cases. Mohs Micrographic Surgery, the highly specialized technique that involved surgically removing a tumor and mapping its roots in the skin, has been advocated as a superior treatment for DFSP, as it has been reported to have a higher cure rate while sparing normal, healthy skin. Finally, a prescription drug called Gleevec has been used to shrink these tumors, especially in rare aggressive cases.
If you notice consistent changes in your skin, please contact us at Sanova Dermatology today to discuss your skin concerns.