The Doctors: What Is Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans?
Have you ever had an irritating pimple on your scalp? They’re annoying and bothersome, but usually nothing to worry about. But for Carrie, that unexplained bump led to a nightmare. The bump started innocuous enough and doctors thought it was a sebaceous cyst, which they said wasn’t something to be concerned about. But when the dermatologist opened it up, she learned very quickly that it was not a sebaceous cyst. It tested positive for Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans (DFSP), which is a rare type of tumor in the dermis layer of the skin called a sarcoma.
Carrie said that when you’re in your 30s, you think that you’re invincible still. You don’t expect to be told that you have cancer. This condition is so rare, it’s diagnosed 1 in a million times annually. Carrie wanted to be a good role model for her kids, so she decided that no matter what, she was going to smile through everything.
The Doctors: Scalp Tumor Removal Surgery
She went in to have her surgery and she was awake for the whole time. It was done with local anesthesia. When they did the first pass along the top of the skin, it came back positive. So they did a second pass and a third pass and those came back positive, too. By the time it was over, she had a large section of her scalp and forehead where there was no tissue, completely down to the bone. The doctor decided to leave the wound open until they could do further testing, so Carrie went home with a giant hole in her head. After reconstructive surgery, she did 30 rounds of radiation and two rounds of oral chemotherapy. Even to this day, the path of the radiation on the top of her head is still bald, so she wears a lot of wigs and headscarves. “It’s been a seven-year-long journey and a lot of parts of it weren’t fun, but it’s really changed me for the better. It helped me find my endurance, my strength, my determination. I have absolute faith that I’ll be able to get through anything,” she said.
The Doctors: Life After Sarcoma Removal
Carrie joined The Doctors on stage and said that after years of surgery, reconstruction, and chemotherapy, she has a clean bill of health. Dr. Travis told her that studies support that a positive outlook on disease can greatly assist in the healing process, so he said it’s possible Carrie’s great outlook is responsible for her recovery.
Trish FedeykoMillard says
Can you please make a clarification that dfsp IS NOT A SKIN CANCER, it is actually a sarcoma that starts in the dermis (second layer of skin). When you watch the story of Carrie, she refers to it as a Sarcoma. This is a very important of dfsp. dfsp survivors are trying very hard to end the misdiagnosis, first of doctors thinking it’s a cyst or nothing to worry about and second that it is a skin cancer … thanks. Trish (2 year dfsp survivor)
Pip Caliskan says
Alex, thank you for highlighting Carrie’s story again but I also BEG you to retract or remove any references to skin cancer. This is a 1 in a million SARCOMA. Sarcomas account for approximately 1% of all diagnosed cancers and dfsp is 1% of that 1%! We have survived cancer. Now we are FIGHTING for recognition and separation from skin cancer. We already endure endless misdiagnoses – FACT:gathered from information received from over 600 dfsp patients. PLEASE do not mislead people by adding skin cancer to the mix. Thank you. Pip 5 x dfsp survivor.
Alex Belz says
Thank you so much for the clarification! I apologize for the mistake and have corrected it in the article.