Mycosis fungoides

From ArticleWorld

Mycosis fungoides is an unusual type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that affects the skin initially but can spread to internal organs. It sounds somewhat like a fungal infection; however, the name was created because the tumors were described as mushroom-like.


The origin of mycosis fungoides is unknown. It is much more common in males than in females and is particularly more likely to happen in those over age 50. There are two types of the disease. One type forms plaques atop the skin and tends to occur with an average age of onset of between 45 and 55. Another type is visible as tumors and/or redness in the skin and is most common in those over 60. It may or may not be associated with leukemia in a form known as Sézary syndrome.

The disease is believed to be caused by an over-expression of skin-related T lymphocyte cells. These particular skin lymphocytes are different biochemically from other T cells. The first visible symptoms include a rash that is patch-like, tumors within the skin and skin redness. Some individuals experience the rash as itchy.

Because it often resembles eczema or psoriasis, the diagnosis is often missed initially. When something more serious is suspected, a skin biopsy can easily identify the disorder. Often, it is necessary to “stage” the disease, which means to identify how far and to where the disease has spread. Lymph nodes can be involved, the blood itself can be involved and the internal organs can show signs of tumor spread.


Commonly used treatments for this disorder is the use of phototherapy, topical chemotherapy agents, systemic chemotherapy, superficial radiation treatments and treatments that promote the function of the immune system. Without treatment, the disease may last indefinitely at the same stage or may progress to a higher degree of involvement, including systemic lymphoma. Treatment varies depending upon the stage of the disease and the rate at which it is progressing.

The majority of patients with mycosis fungoides do not die of the disease, especially when treatment is keeping the disease stable. Sometimes the treatment causes more symptoms and risks than the disease itself and results in some people opting to receive no treatment.