Background: The extent of local invasion in dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP) is often clinically difficult to appreciate, and this leads to inadequate resections. We examined the effect of inadequate initial treatment and the efficacy of wide resection. Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of the records of 35 patients with DFSP treated at our institution (1985 and 2001). Data were analyzed with Wilcoxon's ranked sum test and Fisher's exact test. Results: Of the 24 patients eligible for analysis, 11 had definitive wide resection after diagnostic excisions elsewhere (primary group), and 13 had recurrent tumors after previous surgical treatment elsewhere (recurrent group). Twenty-three patients were treated with wide resection only, and adjuvant radiation was administered to one patient who had a fibrosarcoma. At a median follow-up of 54 months, patients definitively treated at our institution had a 100% local recurrence-free survival. In comparison to the primary group, recurrent DFSPs were significantly larger and deeper and occurred in the head and neck region. Five cases had bone involvement, and of these, 80% occurred in the recurrent group. Conclusions: Inadequate initial treatment results in larger, deeper recurrent lesions, but these can be managed by appropriate wide excision. Wide resection of DFSP (whether recurrent or primary) with negative histological margins predicts a superior local recurrence-free survival.
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