What Is Atypical Fibroxanthoma?
Atypical fibroxanthoma (AFX) is an uncommon skin cancer that most often appears on the head, ears or neck in the form of a red or pink bump. The lesions are typically small (1 to 2 centimeters in diameter) but often develop quickly. They usually aren’t itchy or painful. They can be crusty, scaly or broken open in the middle, and they may bleed.
AFX is thought to be caused by cumulative sun exposure and tanning bed use. It can also occur in people who have received radiation treatment.
Who Gets Atypical Fibroxanthoma?
AFX usually affects people with fair skin. It develops more frequently in people in their 70s and 80s and is more common in men than women. AFX is not hereditary.
Atypical Fibroxanthoma Treatment
An AFX lesion is typically removed via surgery. The doctor may remove it surgically along with a small amount of surrounding tissue or remove it in stages using a technique called Mohs surgery. During a Mohs procedure, the doctor removes a small amount of tissue and examines it under a microscope to check for cancerous cells. That process is repeated until there are no cancerous cells present in the tissue removed. This procedure allows more healthy tissue to be spared, and scarring to be kept to a minimum. Depending on the amount of skin removed, a small skin graft may be necessary.
Atypical Fibroxanthoma Prognosis
People with AFX usually have an excellent outcome after treatment, though lesions re-grow in the same area in up to 10% of cases. It’s rare for AFX to spread to other parts of the body.
Atypical Fibroxanthoma Prevention
The best way to protect yourself from AFX is to practice sun safety.
- Use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day. When outdoors, reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
- Avoid spending time in the sun between 10 am and 2 pm, when the sun’s rays are usually strongest.
- Wear sunglasses with UV protection, a wide-brimmed hat and sun-protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt and pants.
- Do not use tanning beds.
- Schedule skin cancer screenings, especially if you’ve had any type of skin cancer in the past.