Desmoid tumors are rare fibroblastic tumors that are characterized by the presence of proliferating normal-appearing fibroblastic cells in an abundant collagen stroma. There is a female predominance while the highest incidence arises among patients between the ages of 15 to 60 years old . Desmoids arise sporadically, nevertheless in an incidence ranging from 3% to 35% these tumors can occur in patients with familial adenomatous polyposis [6, 7].
Desmoid fibromatosis may occur at abdominal, intra-abdominal and extraabdominal locations. Extraabdominal fibromatosis most frequently occurs in the limbs, followed by the head and neck region . Although these tumors are benign their clinical behavior is unpredictable. Rock et al, in a series of 194 patients with extra-abdominal desmoid tumors, report a 68% recurrence rate at an average of 1.4 years after the first treatment . Such an aggressive behavior combined with the presence of many vital structures in a confined area in the head and neck, consists of a major therapeutic challenge.
At present the management of desmoid tumors includes the use of surgery, radiation therapy (RT) as well as cytotoxic and noncytotoxic chemotherapy. Given the benign nature of these tumors, treatment strategies aim at achieving local control while preserving proper function and providing with an adequate cosmetic result . When medically and technically feasible, complete resection of the tumor with negative microscopic margins is the first-line treatment . Nevertheless, it must be noted that the importance of positive margin status to local recurrence rates, is still a matter of debate. In contrast to other published series [2, 10], a study by Gronchi et al showed that presence of microscopic disease did not affect long-term disease-free survival in patients with primary presentation of extra-abdominal desmoid tumors . Primary RT is an appropriate alternative for patients who are not good surgical candidates . On the other hand the use of postoperative RT is unclear. After taking under consideration the controversy regarding the significance of positive resection margins and the potential for late radiation toxicity, particularly in younger patients, some researchers advocate that RT should not be pursued in patients with primary disease and either negative or positive surgical margins, but only in cases with gross residual disease [13, 14]. In agreement with this approach our patient did not receive adjuvant RT. Systemic therapy includes a variety of noncytotoxic (tamoxifen, testolactone and the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and cytotoxic agents (methotrexate, vinblastine and doxorubicin). Possible candidates for systemic therapy include patients with Gardner's syndrome and unresectable or recurrent desmoid tumors, involving the mesentery . It must be emphasized that, to date, the evidence regarding the efficacy of these agents are drawn from case reports and single-arm series with small patient numbers .
In summary, desmoid tumors are rare and benign neoplasms with a unique biologic behavior. Treatment strategies must be individualized so as to provide adequate local control with subsequent acceptable functional and esthetic outcome. Despite the applied therapeutic method, due to the high recurrence rate, these patients must be closely followed by clinical examination and radiographic studies.