Mycosis fungoides – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Pictures


Mycosis fungoides is a kind of lymphoma. The skin is commonly affected by the condition, but it can affect the other parts of the body such as the internal organs and blood with different levels of severity. There are no known treatments for mycosis fungoides, and hence the patients tend to live with the condition for the remainder of their lives. The treatment is usually aimed at alleviating the symptoms associated with the condition and to reduce some of the resulting complications.

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Jean Luis Marc Alibert, a French doctor was the first one to document mycosis fungoides. He gave the peculiar name to the disease due the similarities between the raised spots on the skin to mushrooms. The name mycosis fungoides thus conveys the meaning ‘mushroom-like fungal disease’

Symptoms of mycosis fungoides

Some of the signs and symptoms associated with mycosis fungoides are discussed below:

  • Patches: One of the most commonly found symptoms of mycosis fungoides are patches of skin which are discolored and have unusual textures. Such patches are often confused with other skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, but essentially they are different and strange.
  • Tumors: As mycosis fungoides is a type of lymphoma, its most important indicators are tumors as well as the presence of other abnormalities in other regions of the body. However, one should note that even biopsies of the tumors may not reveal or diagnose the presence of the condition and hence they should be considered only as a warning sign of mycosis fungoides.
  • Itching: Some patients with mycosis fungoides may experience severe itching that may result in severe distress and discomfort. Even this symptom can lead to a misdiagnosis of the condition as dry skin or psoriasis. If itching is accompanied by the other symptoms of the condition, then it will be a sure indication of mycosis fungoides.
  • Lesions: Lesions caused due to mycosis fungoides can be very damaging to the skin. One can properly diagnose the condition by taking biopsies of the skin lesions and then testing them for the presence of lymphoma-like cells. In case, the lesions remain untreated, they can rapidly spread to other areas of the body and develop into nasty ulcers and sores. Hence, such lesions should be immediately checked by a doctor.

There are three stages to mycosis fungoides with different degrees of fatality. They are dermal, blood and organ. Patients with mycosis fungoides should go for regular checkups to verify whether the condition has not progressed to a stage with a higher degree of fatality.

Causes of mycosis fungoides

  • The exact causes of mycosis fungoides are not known. There are theories that indicate that the disease may have genetic causes.
  • Males are more prone to develop the condition that females.
  • The disease tends to affect individuals who are older than 20 years of age.
  • Individuals who are in their forties or fifties and known to have conditions such as leukemia, erythroderma or tumors belong to the group that is most susceptible to developing mycosis fungoides.

Mycosis fungoides treatment

There is no known cure for mycosis fungoides. The treatment for the condition focuses on alleviating the symptoms of the disease and to prevent it from becoming any worse or advancing to a stage with greater death-risk.

The patients should consult a doctor and choose any one of the below mentioned treatment methods that would be best suited to them:

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  • Simple Sunlight: Sunlight has many benefits such as the power to absorb calcium and providing vitamin D. Such health benefits of sunlight can be used to reduce the effects of mycosis fungoides. However, Sunlight therapy has to be done in moderation to prevent the development of other conditions such as skin cancer
  • Local Superficial Radiotherapy: Radiotherapy can be used to kill and remove mycosis fungoides from a certain location. This method is more efficient in stopping the progress of the condition, but has some side effects as well.
  • Topical Steroids: Steroids promote the flow of oxygen to the affected areas and also diminish the inflammation of the skin. It is an effective therapy for mycosis fungoides but has many severe side effects.
  • Ultraviolet Treatments: If mycosis fungoides is reactive to ultraviolet therapy then it can be a very potent way to treat the condition. Ultraviolet light can destroy the skin and also promote the growth of new skin. This can result in possible removal of lesions, sores, patches and other skin disorders associated with the condition.
  • Systemic Chemotherapies: It is a great way to completely remove all the traces of mycosis fungoides. However chemotherapy can be very unpleasant and has wide-ranging side effects that can even cause fatalities.
  • Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor: This is a novel and promising way to treat lymphoma disorders. It has been found effective in inhibiting the progress of mycosis fungoides and in certain cases, has been found to send it into remission.
  • Biological Therapies: Biological therapies are simple and can be modified to suit individual patient needs. The therapy uses interferons and/or retinoids to battle the effects of mycosis fungoides
  • Skin Electron Beam Radiation Treatment: It is as effective as radiation therapy, with the only difference being the ability of the therapy to concentrate on a specific area, thereby reducing the damage to the surrounding regions.

Mycosis Fungoides pictures

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