Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans: Recent Clinical Progress



Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP) is a rare cutaneous tumor of low malignant grade characterized by a pattern of slow, infiltrative growth and a marked tendency to recur locally after surgical excision. Wide surgical resection is generally accepted as optimal treatment for DFSP. However, despite optimal surgical management, distant metastases may develop in up to 5% of patients. More than 90% of DFSP are characterized by a reciprocal chromosomal translocation, t(17;22). This rearrangement leads to constitutive activation of the platelet-derived growth factor receptor (PDGFR) as a result of deregulated ligand expression, thus providing a rationale for targeted inhibition of PDGFR as a treatment strategy for patients with unresectable locally advanced or metastatic DFSP.


This article reviews the current understanding of DFSP, with emphasis on molecular-level pathogenetic events and their implications for management, and evidence for the role of tyrosine kinase inhibition in improving the outcomes of patients with unresectable locally advanced or metastatic DFSP.


Surgery with wide margins remains the cornerstone in the management of DFSP. Recently, imatinib, a potent, selective inhibitor of the PDGFR alpha and PDGFR beta protein-tyrosine kinases, has been reported to induce complete or partial remissions in most patients treated for advanced DFSP.


Imatinib is approved for treatment of adult patients with unresectable, recurrent, and/or metastatic DFSP who are not eligible for surgery. Future investigations will determine whether imatinib can also be used in the neoadjuvant setting to reduce tumor volume, thereby allowing resection of very large DFSP that would otherwise not be resectable.

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Grant McArthur, MD, participated in the conception, design, and writing of this review. Dr. McArthur discloses the following potential conflicts of interest, which occurred within 3 years of beginning the work on this article: service as a consultant for Pfizer and Novartis; receipt of research funding from Pfizer and Novartis; and receipt of honoraria from Novartis.

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Correspondence to Grant McArthur MBBS, BMedSc, PhD, FRACP.

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McArthur, G. Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans: Recent Clinical Progress. Ann Surg Oncol 14, 2876–2886 (2007).

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  • Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans
  • Platelet-derived growth factor receptor
  • Imatinib
  • Molecular-targeted therapy