Imatinib Found to Be Effective in Unresectable Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans

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Eight in 10 patients with DFSP saw a clinical benefit from treatment with imatinib.
Eight in 10 patients with DFSP saw a clinical benefit from treatment with imatinib.

When patients with dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP) are ineligible for surgical resection, imatinib may be a useful therapeutic option, according to a recent review.1

More than half of the patients in the studies included in the review had a partial response or better to treatment and fewer than 10% had disease progression. Results were similar among patients treated with the 400-mg or the 800-mg dose, but the 400-mg dose was associated with fewer adverse events.

“Imatinib is a useful neoadjuvant directed therapy for select patients with DFSP who are not direct candidates for surgery owing to the local extension of the tumor or possible secondary cosmetic or functional impairment,” the researchers wrote.

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The review included 9 studies published between 2002 and 2017 on adults with histologically proven DFSP who were treated with imatinib as a monotherapy, an adjuvant therapy, or in the neoadjuvant setting. Together, the 9 studies included information on 152 patients with a mean age of 49.3.

Approximately 1 in 20 (5.2%) patients had a complete response to treatment with imatinib. More than half (55.2%) had a partial response, 27.6% had stable disease, and 9.2% had disease progression.

“In other words, 88.1% of patients with advanced DFSP demonstrated some degree of clinical benefit with imatinib,” the researchers wrote.

Among studies that included data on surgery, 60.3% of patients were able to undergo surgery after treatment with imatinib.

Almost three-quarters (73.5%) of patients experienced adverse events, with approximately 15% of patients experiencing severe adverse events.


  1. Navarrete-Dechent C, Mori S, Barker CA, Dickson MA, Nehal KS. Imatinib treatment for locally advanced or metastatic dermafibrosarcoma protuberans. A systematic review [published online January 2, 2018]. JAMA Dermatol. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2018.4940

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