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Atypical Fibroxanthoma

  • Author: Forrest C Brown, MD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
 
Updated: Sep 04, 2015
 

Background

Atypical fibroxanthoma (AFX) is a tumor that occurs primarily in older individuals after the skin of the head and neck has been damaged significantly by sun exposure and/or therapeutic radiation. Clinically, lesions usually are suggestive of malignancy because they arise rapidly (over just a few weeks or months) in skin in which other skin cancers have been found and treated. When this clinical impression is combined with highly anaplastic pathology, misdiagnosis can result in unnecessary and extensive surgery and radiation. The image below demonstrates the typical clinical presentation of an atypical fibroxanthoma.

Red, beefy, sessile nodule typical of clinical preRed, beefy, sessile nodule typical of clinical presentation of atypical fibroxanthoma. Note the markedly sun-damaged skin with solar telangiectasias. Courtesy of Capt James Steger, MC, USN, US Naval Hospital, San Diego.

Histologically, lesions show a highly atypical and pleomorphic cellular appearance, but they typically respond to simple excision. Clinicopathologic correlation is essential. Factors important to consider are lesion location, patient age, histopathologic appearance, and the observation that the tumor arises from the dermis, not the fat. Many AFX tumors may represent a superficial form of malignant fibrous histiocytoma (MFH) with a much better prognosis. Some cases may represent primary squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) that fails to express keratin.

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Epidemiology

Sex

Male-to-female ratio is equal.

Age

In one study, age ranged from 13-95 years with a mean age of 69 years.

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Forrest C Brown, MD Clinical Professor of Dermatology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School; Section Chief, Department of Dermatology, Medical City Dallas Hospital

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Richard P Vinson, MD Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Dermatology, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Paul L Foster School of Medicine; Consulting Staff, Mountain View Dermatology, PA

Richard P Vinson, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, Texas Medical Association, Association of Military Dermatologists, Texas Dermatological Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Rosalie Elenitsas, MD Herman Beerman Professor of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; Director, Penn Cutaneous Pathology Services, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Health System

Rosalie Elenitsas, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Medical Association, American Society of Dermatopathology, Pennsylvania Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Received royalty from Lippincott Williams Wilkins for textbook editor.

Chief Editor

William D James, MD Paul R Gross Professor of Dermatology, Vice-Chairman, Residency Program Director, Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

William D James, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, Society for Investigative Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Carrie L Kovarik, MD Assistant Professor of Dermatology, Dermatopathology, and Infectious Diseases, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Carrie L Kovarik, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

References
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  16. Giuffrida TJ, Kligora CJ, Goldstein GD. Localized cutaneous metastases from an atypical fibroxanthoma. Dermatol Surg. 2004 Dec. 30(12 Pt 2):1561-4. [Medline].

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  19. Ang GC, Roenigk RK, Otley CC, Kim Phillips P, Weaver AL. More than 2 decades of treating atypical fibroxanthoma at mayo clinic: what have we learned from 91 patients?. Dermatol Surg. 2009 May. 35(5):765-72. [Medline].

  20. Fish FS. Soft tissue sarcomas in dermatology. Dermatol Surg. 1996 Mar. 22(3):268-73. [Medline].

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Red, beefy, sessile nodule typical of clinical presentation of atypical fibroxanthoma. Note the markedly sun-damaged skin with solar telangiectasias. Courtesy of Capt James Steger, MC, USN, US Naval Hospital, San Diego.
Microscopic view of atypical fibroxanthoma. Note the large abnormal-appearing cells in a field of spindle cells. Courtesy of Capt James Steger, MC, USN, US Naval Hospital, San Diego.
Table. Antibody Panels in Tumors
AntibodyAFXMFHSCCDFSPSpindle



MM*



Leiomyosarcoma
VimentinRRNRRR
CytokeratinNNRNNN
S-100NNNNRN
Desmin or smooth muscle actinNNNNNR
*Spindle cell malignant melanoma
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