Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Mycosis fungoides

Mycosis fungoides (MF), also known as Alibert-Bazin syndrome, is a low-grade type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in which white blood cells called lymphctyes become cancerous and affect the skin. Mycosis fungoides, named because of the mushroom fungus look of advanced stages of the disease, is a T-cell lymphoma. MF is more common in men than women. Most patients are in their 50s and 60s. MF generally affects the skin, but may progress to internal organs or the lymph nodes.

Common mycosis fungoides symptoms

Mycosis fungoides is the most common type of skin lymphoma. Its symptoms vary from patient to patient. MF is often mistaken for eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis, making it difficult to diagnose at first. Several biopsies may be needed to confirm the diagnosis. Symptoms include:

  • Rash
  • Tumors
  • Skin lesions
  • Patches
  • Itching

NOTE: These symptoms may be attributed to a number of conditions other than cancer. It is important to consult with a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Advanced treatments for mycosis fungoides

Common mycosis fungoides treatments include:

Chemotherapy: For patients with refractory disease, chemotherapy may be provided as a single drug or a combination of drugs. Some chemotherapy drugs may be used to treat earlier forms of skin lymphoma, as topical ointments or creams applied directly to the skin.

Radiation: External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) may be used to treat mycosis fungoides. One method for delivering the radiation involves treating the skin over the whole body with rays of tiny particles called electrons. Recommendations for radiation therapy delivery depend on the type and stage of the cancer.

Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy drugs are used to attack specific parts of lymphoma cells or to increase the immune system’s response to them. These drugs may work in situations where chemotherapy does not.

Corticosteroids: These drugs are made up of cortisol, a naturally-occurring hormone that may affect immune cells such as lymphocytes. Corticosteroids may be taken as pills and injections, or applied directly to the skin in the form of ointments, gels and creams. They also may be injected directly into skin lesions. When applied to the skin, less of the drug is absorbed, resulting in fewer side effects. Long-term use of topical corticosteroids may cause the skin in that area to thin out.

Immunotherapy: Immune therapy drugs used to treat skin lymphomas are designed to help destroy lesions. The drug is most often delivered in the form of a cream. When applied to skin lesions, the drug is designed to activate the immune system to destroy cancer cells. 

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