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Mycosis Fungoides - Pictures, Staging, Symptoms, Treatment and Causes

Updated on December 2, 2013

Mycosis Fungoides Pictures

What is Mycosis Fungoides?

This medical condition is one type of lymphoma and will often infect the skin. It can spread to other parts of your body including the internal organs and blood with different degrees of severity. The physician who documented the disease first in 1806 was Dr. Jean Luis Marc Alibert, a French dermatologist. He named the disease mycosis fungoides because the spots that appeared on the skin were similar to raised mushrooms. When you translate the name of the disease it suggests that this is a mushroom-like fungal condition but it is not a fungal infection. It is actually a type of non-Hodgkin’s disease and is a form of the most common of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.

Mycosis fungoides is a group of rare cancers that grow in your skin. You will see most of these cases appearing in people over the age of twenty but is more common in women than men, especially women over the age of fifty. The average age for people who have plaque and patch disease is between the ages of forty-five and fifty-five years of age. It is more common in Afro-Americans than Caucasians. In the United States each year there are approximately one thousand new cases.

Symptoms

This medical disease progresses in stages. Each stage is defined by the symptoms on the skin. Mycosis fungoides will usually start out as a rash that is unexplainable and can come and go for years. It is a disease that slowly develops and progresses slowly.

Staging

Patch phase/stage

In some people, they do not have this phase/stage.

  • Red, flat patches on your skin. They can sometimes even be brown..
  • In people with dark skin they patches can be either very dark or very light.
  • Very itchy
  • Some areas may be hard and red referred to as plaques.
  • Often appear on your chest/breasts, groin, buttocks, under your arms, or hips.

Skin tumor phase/stage

  • Lumps that are raised and red-violet in color referred to as nodules.
  • They may be dome shaped like a mushroom.
  • They could be ulcerated.

Skin redness phase/stage

This is referred to as the erythrodema phase and in addition to the tumors and patches, you may have:

  • Large red areas which can be very itchy
  • Skin of the soles of your feet and palms of your hands may crack and thicken.

Approximately ninety percent of the time this stage is associated with Sezary syndrome which is a variant of this medical disease. In this variant you will find a huge number of cancer cells in your blood.

Lymph node phase/stage

  • The disease begins to move to other parts of your body.
  • First part of your body that is affect are your lymph nodes.
  • The lymph nodes become inflamed and are often cancerous.
  • Cancer can spread to your lungs, bone marrow, or liver.

Twenty percent of the people who have mycosis fungoides will have the severe itching causing may physicians to misdiagnose this medical disease as psoriasis, eczema, or dry skin.

Causes

What exactly causes mycosis fungoides is not known but there are several theories that cause physicians to think that this disease comes from hereditary or non-genetic causes in most of the cases. Some researchers feel that viral and chemical exposure may cause a person to have mycosis fungoides. At this time there has been no single gene identified as causing this medical disease. It is not a contagious disease. It is a cancerous disease and has a mortality rate of sixty percent.

Treatment

There is no known cure at this time but there are treatments that can help control the symptoms and help to improve your quality of life. The treatment can also help prevent mycosis fungoides from processing into other stages. There are a variety of therapies that the cancer responds to very well and many times it will go into remission, especially if they catch it early. They can combine chemotherapy and other therapies directing them against the cancer cells. If the cancer comes back they can use these same combinations again or try a new therapy.

If it is caught in the early stages they can use in addition to the chemotherapy, they can use electron beam radiation and steroid creams. The goal for any treatment used is to put the cancer into remission which can last for a long time.

If the cancer does not respond to these various treatments or it is in the tumor phase/stage then they can do systemic treatments that also include chemotherapy along with recomninant alfa interferon. How long a person will live depends on how far it has spread by the time a diagnosis is given and you begin treatment.

Other simple treatments that can be used included:

  • Ultraviolet treatment - it can help kill the skin and allow new skin to form. It can help remove some of the patches and lesions associated with this disease.
  • Local superficial radiotherapy - this treatment may impede the progress of this condition.

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      julia rhodes 

      20 months ago

      My veterinarian diagnosed my cat with mycosis fungoides and said there was no treatment and it was terminal. After much experimentation I got good results by mixing his food with dried celery leaf, in six months he was completely cured.

    • profile image

      Open 

      3 years ago

      Please let me know if you're looking for a wrietr for your blog. You have some really good posts and I think I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I'd really like to write some articles for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please shoot me an email if interested. Thank you!

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