Atypical fibroxanthoma also known as AFX is a form of skin cancer that primarily occurs in older adults. The tumor-like growths typically develop on sun-exposed areas of the body. The majority of AFX tumors are the result of excessive sun exposure or treatment with therapeutic radiation. The lesions can develop quickly over a matter of a few weeks or months and they do have the potential to metastasize to other parts of the body.
Understanding the Symptoms of Atypical Fibroxanthoma
The most common characteristics of AFX include:
A small nodule that typically appears on the nose, ears, cheeks, or back of the neck.
The nodule or tumor may grow to approximately 2 to 3 cm. in a few months.
The nodule may appear crusted or ulcerated.
How Are Atypical Fibroxanthomas Diagnosed?
The clinical presentation of AFX can be similar to other forms of skin cancer. A definitive diagnosis is usually made by a pathologist after the area has been excised or through a skin biopsy.
How Is Atypical Fibroxanthoma Treated:
Very small AFX nodules may be treated using curettage and desiccation. This involves scraping the affected area with an instrument called a curette and then cauterizing the area to destroy any remaining cancer cells and to prevent bleeding.
Excision has long been the primary treatment for AFX. Since it can be difficult to clearly define the margins of the tumor, a wide area of tissue is typically removed to ensure that the margins of the excised area are free of cancer cells. As a result, excision is best suited to situations involving small tumors.
Another technique, called Mohs surgery, is gaining favor for use in cases of large or recurrent tumors. The advantage of Mohs surgery is that the surgeon removes one layer of tissue at a time . Each layer is then examined under a microscope during the procedure. This allows the surgeon to remove just enough tissue to ensure that the margins are cancer-free. This eliminates the guesswork of determining the depth of the tumor and spares more healthy tissue.
Long-term Prognosis Following This Diagnosis
AFX tumors treated by wide local excision have a recurrence rate of approximately 8.7 percent. This compares to 0 percent with Mohs surgery. Patients undergoing treatment for AFX should follow up with their doctor for at least two years to monitor for possible recurrence or metastasis.
For more information about treatment options for atypical fibroxanthoma, call Robert M. Schwarcz in Manhattan today to schedule a consultation.