Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans: Signs and symptoms
Early signs and symptoms of dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans
This skin cancer tends to grow slowly, so it often goes unnoticed for months—or even years. When dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP) first appears on the skin, a person may notice:
A pimple-like growth or rough patch of skin
No pain or tenderness where the growth or patch forms
Little change in the growth or patch
DFSP often looks like this harmless and common skin growth, a dermatofibroma.
Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP) on a child’s skin
In children, this skin cancer tends to resemble a birthmark.
First signs of dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP)
The first sign of this skin cancer may be reddish brown or pink patch of raised skin that looks like a scar.
As the skin cancer grows
As DFSP grows inside the middle layer of skin, it tends to push on the top layer of skin. You may see a lump, also known as a protuberan. The lump may feel hard or rubbery. As the lump grows, it stretches the skin. You may notice that the affected skin:
Cracks and bleeds
Feels hard, and the lump seems cemented in the skin
When a woman is pregnant, DFSP tends to grow more quickly.
Over time, more protuberans (lumps) can appear. Once these appear, DFSP tends to grow quickly. In adults, the protuberans often range in color from reddish brown to violet. In young patients, DFSP tends to be blue or red in color.
As the dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP) grows
Given time to grow, many protuberans can appear on the surface of the skin.
Where dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans forms on the body
DFSP can form anywhere on the skin. It is, however, more likely to develop on the:
Trunk (chest, back, abdomen, shoulder, buttocks)
Arm or leg
Few DFSPs form above the neck, but it is possible to find this skin cancer on the scalp or inside the mouth.
When to see a dermatologist
If you are worried about a growth on your skin, you should see a dermatologist. Many skin growths look alike. DFSP often looks like a harmless skin growth known as a dermatofibroma (shown above). This harmless skin growth rarely needs treatment. DFSP always requires treatment.
Dermatologists receive specialized training in diagnosing and treating skin cancer. This expertise is helpful when a person has a rare skin cancer like DFSP.
More common in younger people
DFSP tends to occur between the ages of 20 and 50.
Images used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology:
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