Background: Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP) is an uncommon soft- tissue tumor of the skin; its microscopic extent of invasion beyond the grossly visible tumor is frequently difficult to appreciate. Although wide local excision has been the standard treatment of DFSP, recurrence rates range from 11% to 53%. Because Mohs micrographic surgery allows the extent of excision to be tailored to the microscopic extent of tumor, we evaluated this technique for the treatment of primary and recurrent DFSP. Objective: Our purpose was to determine the local recurrence rate and microscopic extent of spread of primary and recurrent DFSP after treatment with Mohs micrographic surgery. Methods: The records of 58 patients with primary and recurrent DFSP treated with Mohs micrographic surgery at three institutions were reviewed and the macroscopic and microscopic extents of tumor were recorded. Results: One patient with a twice-recurrent DFSP had another recurrence after Mohs micrographic surgery, for an overall local recurrence rate of 2% (zero for primary tumors and 4.8% for recurrent tumors). There were no cases of regional or distant metastases. Macroscopic tumor size ranged from 0.3 x 0.6 cm to 30 x 20 cm, whereas microscopic (postoperative) size ranged from 1.8 x 1.0 cm to 35 x 40 cm. We calculated the likelihood that a given width of excision around the macroscopic tumor would clear the entire microscopic extent of tumor. Standard wide excision with a width of 1 cm around the primary tumor would have left microscopic residual tumor in 70.7%; a width of 2 cm, 39.7%; 3 cm, 15.5%; and 5 cm, 5.2%. Even an excision width of 10 cm would not have cleared the microscopic extent of some tumors, despite taking a huge excess of normal tissue. Conclusion: Treatment of primary and recurrent DFSP by Mohs micrographic surgery results in a low recurrence rate because of the ability of the technique to permit the detection and excision of microscopic tumor elements in even the most asymmetric tumors. Whatever type of surgery is chosen to treat DFSP, it is necessary to assess the entire perimeter of the tumor for microscopic extension and to achieve tumor-free margins in all directions.
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