Mycosis Fungoides

Judith Pitman, RN; Gabriele Muekusch, RN


Dermatology Nursing. 2007;19(4):377 


Mycosis fungoides (MF) is the most common type of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. It is characterized by malignant T-cell lymphocytes in the skin. It presents as patch, plaque, or tumor stage and is often confined to the skin only but it may involve lymph nodes and other organs in later stages.

The cause of MF is unknown. It is not contagious and there is no cure.

It often presents in bathing suit areas, but it can appear anywhere on the body including palms, soles, and face.

Patches and plaques may be scaly or erythematous (see Figure 1). Lesions may present as hypo or hyperpigmented areas (see Figure 2). They vary in color from red, purplish, or brown and they may wax and wane. Plaques are slightly raised and scaly. Tumors are significantly elevated and may ulcerate.

Patches and plaques may be scaly or erythematous.

Lesions may present as hypo or hyperpigmented areas.

There are a number of treatments available depending on severity of involvement. The dermatologist may order treatments such as topical steroids, phototherapy (PUVA or narrow-band UVB), nitrogen mustard, and BCNU (carmustine). A patient may be referred to a radiation oncologist for spot radiation or electron beam treatment. With more systemic involvement an oncologist will order interferon, retinoids, or chemotherapy. Photopheresis is an option for SE9zary syndrome, a variant of MF.

With treatment and regular check-ups remission may be achieved and the majority of patients with MF will live a normal life expectancy.

Patients are taught skin self-examination. Any unusual skin changes should be reported to the dermatologist or oncologist. Education regarding particular treatments and their side effects are explained. At our clinic, side effects of phototherapy and teaching regarding sun awareness are emphasized. Ongoing reassurance and support are essential.


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