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Skin Care and Diseases

Mycosis fungoides

10/23/2006

Question:

My sister who is 43 , healthy nurse/attorney has a extensive rash and has had 3 biopsies. Her dermatologist has told her he is suspicious that it is mycosis fungoides.

Can you tell me a little about this and the seriousness of this disease , treatments, prognosis etc.She should have the rest of the bx results next week. Her first bx was done to remove a suspicious mole which was fine but the area around the mole according to the pathologist had some abnormal lymphocytic activity.

Thank you so much.

Answer:

Mycosis fungoides is a skin disease in which abnormal or atypical T lymphocytes invade the epidermis or the superficial layer of the skin. Clinically, it may look like patches or plaques of eczema. More advanced stages will have deeper or more nodular lesions. A biopsy will help rule out MF although sometimes changes are very subtle and could look very much just like eczema.

There is a range of treatment options for MF starting with topical steroids, phototherapy, topical agents such as nitrogen mustard, and the list goes on. Early patch/plaque lesions don't significantly affect a patient's survival. The more aggressive variant called Sezary syndrome in which the atypical T lymphocytes are detectable in the blood/circulation has a poorer prognosis.

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Response by:

Elma D Baron, MD Elma D Baron, MD
Associate Professor of Dermatology
Director, Skin Study Center
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University