Press Release

Mycosis Fungoides: A Rash that Can Be Cancer

03.24.2014

ABOUT MYCOSIS FUNGOIDES AND SÉZARY SYNDROME
WHAT IS MYCOSIS FUNGOIDES?

Mycosis fungoides is a type of lymphoma, a cancer that begins in the lymph nodes. When the disease becomes active, certain cells in the body's autoimmune system collect in the skin and interact with other cells to produce visible changes in the skin. Those same autoimmune system cells can also travel in the blood to collect in lymph nodes or affect the liver, spleen, lungs, lymph nodes and bone marrow.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF MYCOSIS FUNGOIDES?

Mycosis fungoides can appear as:

  • Scaly thin red patches of skin
  • Raised and thick skin changes
  • Skin nodules

It is not contagious. Researchers do not yet know the cause of mycosis fungoides, but they suspect a combination of issues may spark the disease.

HOW IS MYCOSIS FUNGOIDES TREATED?

The most effective treatment of mycosis fungoides requires the collaboration of different medical specialists who are familiar with this unusual disease. Those specialists may include dermatologists, dermatopathologists, and medical and radiation oncologists. Treatment will typically combine approaches directed at the skin externally, such as electron beam radiation, and those that affect the skin from within the body. Those therapies techniques may be chemotherapy, oral retinoids, and biologic antibodies.

HOW IS MYCOSIS FUNGOIDES DIAGNOSED?

Mycosis fungoides is often mistaken for common skin conditions such as psoriasis, chronic dermatitis, or chronic fungal infection. A biopsy is required. Other tests are repeated over time to confirm the diagnosis. Those tests may include blood analysis, chest X-ray, and CT or PET scans.

About Stanford Health Care

Stanford Health Care seeks to heal humanity through science and compassion one patient at a time, through its commitment to care, educate, and discover. Stanford Health Care delivers clinical innovation across its inpatient services, specialty health centers, physician offices, virtual care offerings and health plan programs.

Stanford Health Care is a leading academic health system and part of Stanford Medicine, which includes the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford. Stanford Medicine is renowned for breakthroughs in treating cancer, heart disease, brain disorders and surgical and medical conditions. For more information, visit: www.stanfordhealthcare.org.

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