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Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Mycosis Fungoides (Including Sézary Syndrome) Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI]

Mycosis Fungoides (Including Sézary Syndrome) Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI]

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http://cancer.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

General Information About Mycosis Fungoides (Including Sézary Syndrome)

General Information About Mycosis Fungoides (Including Sézary Syndrome)

Mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome are diseases in which lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) become malignant (cancerous) and affect the skin.

Normally, the bone marrow makes blood stem cells (immature cells) that become mature blood stem cells over time. A blood stem cell may become a myeloid stem cell or a lymphoid stem cell. A myeloid stem cell becomes a red blood cell, white blood cell, or platelet. A lymphoid stem cell becomes a lymphoblast and then one of three types of lymphocytes (white blood cells):

  • B-cell lymphocytes that make antibodies to help fight infection.
  • T-cell lymphocytes that help B-lymphocytes make the antibodies that help fight infection.
  • Natural killer cells that attack cancer cells and viruses.

Blood cell development; drawing shows the steps a blood stem cell goes through to become a red blood cell, platelet, or white blood cell. A myeloid stem cell becomes a red blood cell, a platelet, or a myeloblast, which then becomes a granulocyte (the types of granulocytes are eosinophils, basophils, and neutrophils). A lymphoid stem cell becomes a lymphoblast and then becomes a B-lymphocyte, T-lymphocyte, or natural killer cell.
Blood cell development. A blood stem cell goes through several steps to become a red blood cell, platelet, or white blood cell.

In mycosis fungoides, T-cell lymphocytes become cancerous and affect the skin. When these lymphocytes occur in the blood, they are called Sézary cells. In Sézary syndrome, cancerous T-cell lymphocytes affect the skin and large numbers of Sézary cells are found in the blood.

Mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome are types of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.

Mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome are the two most common types of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma). For information about other types of skin cancer or non-Hodgkin lymphoma, see the following PDQ summaries:

  • Adult Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Treatment
  • Skin Cancer Treatment
  • Melanoma Treatment
  • Kaposi Sarcoma Treatment

A sign of mycosis fungoides is a red rash on the skin.

Mycosis fungoides may go through the following phases:

  • Premycotic phase: A scaly, red rash in areas of the body that usually are not exposed to the sun. This rash does not cause symptoms and may last for months or years. It is hard to diagnose the rash as mycosis fungoides during this phase.
  • Patch phase: Thin, reddened, eczema -like rash.
  • Plaque phase: Small raised bumps (papules) or hardened lesions on the skin, which may be reddened.
  • Tumor phase: Tumors form on the skin. These tumors may develop ulcers and the skin may get infected.

Check with your doctor if you have any of these signs.

In Sézary syndrome, cancerous T-cells are found in the blood.

Also, skin all over the body is reddened, itchy, peeling, and painful. There may also be patches, plaques, or tumors on the skin. It is not known if Sézary syndrome is an advanced form of mycosis fungoides or a separate disease.

Tests that examine the skin and blood are used to diagnose mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome.

The following tests and procedures may be used:

  • Physical exam and health history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps, the number and type of skin lesions, or anything else that seems unusual. Pictures of the skin and a history of the patient's health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
  • Complete blood count with differential: A procedure in which a sample of blood is drawn and checked for the following:
    • The number of red blood cells and platelets.
    • The number and type of white blood cells.
    • The amount of hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen) in the red blood cells.
    • The portion of the blood sample made up of red blood cells.

    Complete blood count (CBC); left panel shows blood being drawn from a vein on the inside of the elbow using a tube attached to a syringe; right panel shows a laboratory test tube with blood cells separated into layers: plasma, white blood cells, platelets, and red blood cells.
    Complete blood count (CBC). Blood is collected by inserting a needle into a vein and allowing the blood to flow into a tube. The blood sample is sent to the laboratory and the red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are counted. The CBC is used to test for, diagnose, and monitor many different conditions.
  • Sézary blood cell count: A procedure in which a sample of blood is viewed under a microscope to count the number of Sézary cells.
  • HIV test: A test to measure the level of HIV antibodies in a sample of blood. Antibodies are made by the body when it is invaded by a foreign substance. A high level of HIV antibodies may mean the body has been infected with HIV.
  • Skin biopsy: The removal of cells or tissues so they can be viewed under a microscope to check for signs of cancer. The doctor may remove a growth from the skin, which will be examined by a pathologist. More than one skin biopsy may be needed to diagnose mycosis fungoides. Other tests that may be done on the cells or tissue sample include the following:
    • Immunophenotyping: A laboratory test that uses antibodies to identify cancer cells based on the types of antigens or markers on the surface of the cells. This test is used to help diagnose specific types of lymphoma.
    • Flow cytometry: A laboratory test that measures the number of cells in a sample, the percentage of live cells in a sample, and certain characteristics of the cells, such as size, shape, and the presence of tumor (or other) markers on the cell surface. The cells from a sample of a patient's blood, bone marrow, or other tissue are stained with a fluorescent dye, placed in a fluid, and then passed one at a time through a beam of light. The test results are based on how the cells that were stained with the fluorescent dye react to the beam of light. This test is used to help diagnose and manage certain types of cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma.
    • T-cell receptor (TCR) gene rearrangement test: A laboratory test in which cells in a sample of blood or bone marrow are checked to see if there are certain changes in the genes that make receptors on T cells (white blood cells). Testing for these gene changes can tell whether large numbers of T cells with a certain T-cell receptor are being made.

Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

The prognosis and treatment options depend on the following:

  • The stage of the cancer.
  • The type of lesion (patches, plaques, or tumors).
  • The patient's age and gender.

Mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome are hard to cure. Treatment is usually palliative, to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life. Patients with early stage disease may live many years.

Stages of Mycosis Fungoides (Including Sézary Syndrome)

Stages of Mycosis Fungoides (Including Sézary Syndrome)

After mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome have been diagnosed, tests are done to find out if cancer cells have spread from the skin to other parts of the body.

The process used to find out if cancer has spread from the skin to other parts of the body is called staging. The information gathered from the staging process determines the stage of the disease. It is important to know the stage in order to plan treatment.

The following procedures may be used in the staging process:

  • Chest x-ray: An x-ray of the organs and bones inside the chest. An x-ray is a type of energy beam that can go through the body and onto film, making a picture of areas inside the body.
  • CT scan (CAT scan): A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, such as the lymph nodes, chest, abdomen, and pelvis, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.
  • PET scan (positron emission tomography scan): A procedure to find malignant tumor cells in the body. A small amount of radioactive glucose (sugar) is injected into a vein. The PET scanner rotates around the body and makes a picture of where glucose is being used in the body. Malignant tumor cells show up brighter in the picture because they are more active and take up more glucose than normal cells do.
  • Lymph node biopsy: The removal of all or part of a lymph node. A pathologist views the lymph node tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells.
  • Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy: The removal of bone marrow and a small piece of bone by inserting a hollow needle into the hipbone or breastbone. A pathologist views the bone marrow and bone under a microscope to look for signs of cancer.

There are three ways that cancer spreads in the body.

Cancer can spread through tissue, the lymph system, and the blood:

  • Tissue. The cancer spreads from where it began by growing into nearby areas.
  • Lymph system. The cancer spreads from where it began by getting into the lymph system. The cancer travels through the lymph vessels to other parts of the body.
  • Blood. The cancer spreads from where it began by getting into the blood. The cancer travels through the blood vessels to other parts of the body.

Cancer may spread from where it began to other parts of the body.

When cancer spreads to another part of the body, it is called metastasis. Cancer cells break away from where they began (the primary tumor) and travel through the lymph system or blood.

  • Lymph system. The cancer gets into the lymph system, travels through the lymph vessels, and forms a tumor (metastatic tumor) in another part of the body.
  • Blood. The cancer gets into the blood, travels through the blood vessels, and forms a tumor (metastatic tumor) in another part of the body.

The metastatic tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary tumor. For example, if mycosis fungoides spreads to the liver, the cancer cells in the liver are actually mycosis fungoides cells. The disease is metastatic mycosis fungoides, not liver cancer.

The following stages are used for mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome:

Stage I Mycosis Fungoides

Stage I is divided into stages IA and IB as follows:

  • Stage IA: Patches, papules, and/or plaques cover less than 10% of the skin surface.
  • Stage IB: Patches, papules, and/or plaques cover 10% or more of the skin surface.

There may be a low number of Sézary cells in the blood.

Stage II Mycosis Fungoides

Stage II is divided into stages IIA and IIB as follows:

  • Stage IIA: Patches, papules, and/or plaques cover any amount of skin surface. Lymph nodes are abnormal, but they are not cancerous.
  • Stage IIB: One or more tumors that are 1 centimeter or larger are found on the skin. Lymph nodes may be abnormal, but they are not cancerous.

There may be a low number of Sézary cells in the blood.

Stage III Mycosis Fungoides

In stage III, 80% or more of the skin surface is reddened and may have patches, papules, plaques, or tumors. Lymph nodes may be abnormal, but they are not cancerous.

There may be a low number of Sézary cells in the blood.

Stage IV Mycosis Fungoides/Sézary Syndrome

When there is a high number of Sézary cells in the blood, the disease is called Sézary syndrome.

Stage IV is divided into stages IVA1, IVA2, and IVB as follows:

  • Stage IVA1: Patches, papules, plaques, or tumors may cover any amount of the skin surface, and 80% or more of the skin surface may be reddened. The lymph nodes may be abnormal, but they are not cancerous. There is a high number of Sézary cells in the blood.
  • Stage IVA2: Patches, papules, plaques, or tumors may cover any amount of the skin surface, and 80% or more of the skin surface may be reddened. The lymph nodes are very abnormal, or cancer has formed in the lymph nodes. There may be a high number of Sézary cells in the blood.
  • Stage IVB: Cancer has spread to other organs in the body, such as the spleen or liver. Patches, papules, plaques, or tumors may cover any amount of the skin surface, and 80% or more of the skin surface may be reddened. The lymph nodes may be abnormal or cancerous. There may be a high number of Sézary cells in the blood.

Mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome can recur (come back) after they have been treated.

Mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome may come back in the skin or in other parts of the body, such as the spleen or liver.

Treatment Option Overview

Treatment Option Overview

There are different types of treatment for patients with mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome cancer.

Different types of treatment are available for patients with mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment. Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.

Seven types of standard treatment are used:

Photodynamic therapy

Photodynamic therapy is a cancer treatment that uses a drug and a certain type of laser light to kill cancer cells. A drug that is not active until it is exposed to light is injected into a vein. The drug collects more in cancer cells than in normal cells. For skin cancer, laser light is shined onto the skin and the drug becomes active and kills the cancer cells. Photodynamic therapy causes little damage to healthy tissue. Patients undergoing photodynamic therapy will need to limit the amount of time spent in sunlight. There are different types of photodynamic therapy:

  • In psoralen and ultraviolet A (PUVA) therapy, the patient receives a drug called psoralen and then ultraviolet A radiation is directed to the skin.
  • In extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP), the patient is given drugs and then some blood cells are taken from the body, put under a special ultraviolet A light, and put back into the body. ECP may be used alone or combined with total skin electron beam (TSEB) radiation therapy.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the area of the body with cancer. Sometimes, total skin electron beam (TSEB) radiation therapy is used to treat mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome. This is a type of external radiation treatment in which a radiation therapy machine aims electrons (tiny, invisible particles) at the skin covering the whole body. External radiation therapy may also be used as palliative therapy to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.

Ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation therapy or ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation therapy may be given using a special lamp or laser that directs radiation at the skin.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy). Sometimes the chemotherapy is topical (put on the skin in a cream, lotion, or ointment).

See Drugs Approved for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma for more information. (Mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome are types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.)

Other drug therapy

Topical corticosteroids are used to relieve red, swollen, and inflamed skin. They are a type of steroid. Topical corticosteroids may be in a cream, lotion, or ointment.

Retinoids, such as bexarotene, are drugs related to vitamin A that can slow the growth of certain types of cancer cells. The retinoids may be taken by mouth or put on the skin.

Lenalidomide is a drug that helps the immune system kill abnormal blood cells or cancer cells and may prevent the growth of new blood vessels that tumors need to grow.

Vorinostat and romidepsin are two of the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors used to treat mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome. HDAC inhibitors cause a chemical change that stops tumor cells from dividing.

See Drugs Approved for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma for more information. (Mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome are types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.)

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses the patient's immune system to fight cancer. Substances made by the body or made in a laboratory are used to boost, direct, or restore the body's natural defenses against cancer. This cancer treatment is a type of biologic therapy.

  • Interferon: This treatment interferes with the division of mycosis fungoides and Sézary cells and can slow tumor growth.

See Drugs Approved for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma for more information. (Mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome are types of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.)

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells. Targeted therapies usually cause less harm to normal cells than chemotherapy or radiation therapy do.

  • Monoclonal antibodies: Monoclonal antibodies are immune system proteins made in the laboratory to treat many diseases, including cancer. As a cancer treatment, these antibodies can attach to a specific target on cancer cells or other cells that may help cancer cells grow. The antibodies are able to then kill the cancer cells, block their growth, or keep them from spreading. Monoclonal antibodies are given by infusion. They may be used alone or to carry drugs, toxins, or radioactive material directly to cancer cells.

    Types of monoclonal antibodies include:

    • Brentuximab vedotin, which contains a monoclonal antibody that binds to a protein, called CD30, found on some types of lymphoma cells. It also contains an anticancer drug that may help kill cancer cells.
    • Mogamulizumab, which contains a monoclonal antibody that binds to a protein, called CCR4, found on some types of lymphoma cells. It may block this protein and help the immune system kill cancer cells. It is used to treat mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome that came back or did not get better after treatment with at least one systemic therapy.
    monoclonal antibodies: how monoclonal antibodies treat cancerHow do monoclonal antibodies work to treat cancer? This video shows how monoclonal antibodies, such as trastuzumab, pembrolizumab, and rituximab, block molecules cancer cells need to grow, flag cancer cells for destruction by the body's immune system, or deliver harmful substances to cancer cells.

High-dose chemotherapy and radiation therapy with stem cell transplant

High doses of chemotherapy and sometimes radiation therapy are given to kill cancer cells. Healthy cells, including blood-forming cells, are also destroyed by the cancer treatment. Stem cell transplant is a treatment to replace the blood-forming cells. Stem cells (immature blood cells) are removed from the blood or bone marrow of the patient or a donor and are frozen and stored. After the patient completes chemotherapy and radiation therapy, the stored stem cells are thawed and given back to the patient through an infusion. These reinfused stem cells grow into (and restore) the body's blood cells.

New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.

This summary section describes treatments that are being studied in clinical trials. It may not mention every new treatment being studied. Information about clinical trials is available from the NCI website.

Immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy

  • Immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy: Immune checkpoint inhibitors block proteins called checkpoints that are made by some types of immune system cells, such as T cells, and some cancer cells. These checkpoints help keep immune responses from being too strong and sometimes can keep T cells from killing cancer cells. When these checkpoints are blocked, T cells can kill cancer cells better.
  • PD-1 and PD-L1 inhibitor therapy: PD-1 is a protein on the surface of T cells that helps keep the body's immune responses in check. PD-L1 is a protein found on some types of cancer cells. When PD-1 attaches to PD-L1, it stops the T cell from killing the cancer cell. PD-1 and PD-L1 inhibitors keep PD-1 and PD-L1 proteins from attaching to each other. This allows the T cells to kill cancer cells. Pembrolizumab is a type of PD-1 inhibitor.

Immune checkpoint inhibitor; the panel on the left shows the binding of proteins PD-L1 (on the tumor cell) to PD-1 (on the T cell), which keeps T cells from killing tumor cells in the body. Also shown are a tumor cell antigen and T cell receptor. The panel on the right shows immune checkpoint inhibitors (anti-PD-L1 and anti-PD-1) blocking the binding of PD-L1 to PD-1, which allows the T cells to kill tumor cells.
Immune checkpoint inhibitor. Checkpoint proteins, such as PD-L1 on tumor cells and PD-1 on T cells, help keep immune responses in check. The binding of PD-L1 to PD-1 keeps T cells from killing tumor cells in the body (left panel). Blocking the binding of PD-L1 to PD-1 with an immune checkpoint inhibitor (anti-PD-L1 or anti-PD-1) allows the T cells to kill tumor cells (right panel).

Information about clinical trials is available from the NCI website.

Treatment for mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome may cause side effects.

For information about side effects caused by treatment for cancer, see our Side Effects page.

Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial.

For some patients, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Clinical trials are part of the cancer research process. Clinical trials are done to find out if new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard treatment.

Many of today's standard treatments for cancer are based on earlier clinical trials. Patients who take part in a clinical trial may receive the standard treatment or be among the first to receive a new treatment.

Patients who take part in clinical trials also help improve the way cancer will be treated in the future. Even when clinical trials do not lead to effective new treatments, they often answer important questions and help move research forward.

Patients can enter clinical trials before, during, or after starting their cancer treatment.

Some clinical trials only include patients who have not yet received treatment. Other trials test treatments for patients whose cancer has not gotten better. There are also clinical trials that test new ways to stop cancer from recurring (coming back) or reduce the side effects of cancer treatment.

Clinical trials are taking place in many parts of the country. Information about clinical trials supported by NCI can be found on NCI's clinical trials search webpage. Clinical trials supported by other organizations can be found on the ClinicalTrials.gov website.

Follow-up tests may be needed.

Some of the tests that were done to diagnose the cancer or to find out the stage of the cancer may be repeated. Some tests will be repeated in order to see how well the treatment is working. Decisions about whether to continue, change, or stop treatment may be based on the results of these tests.

Some of the tests will continue to be done from time to time after treatment has ended. The results of these tests can show if your condition has changed or if the cancer has recurred (come back). These tests are sometimes called follow-up tests or check-ups.

Treatment of Stage I and Stage II Mycosis Fungoides

Treatment of Stage I and Stage II Mycosis Fungoides

For information about the treatments listed below, see the Treatment Option Overview section.

Treatment of newly diagnosed stage I and stage II mycosis fungoides may include the following:

  • Psoralen and ultraviolet A (PUVA) radiation therapy.
  • Ultraviolet B radiation therapy.
  • Radiation therapy with total skin electron beam radiation therapy. In some cases, radiation therapy is given to skin lesions, as palliative therapy to reduce tumor size to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
  • Immunotherapy given alone or combined with therapy directed at the skin.
  • Topical chemotherapy.
  • Systemic chemotherapy with one or more drugs, which may be combined with therapy directed at the skin.
  • Other drug therapy (topical corticosteroids, retinoid therapy, lenalidomide, histone deacetylase inhibitors).
  • Targeted therapy (brentuximab vedotin).

Use our clinical trial search to find NCI-supported cancer clinical trials that are accepting patients. You can search for trials based on the type of cancer, the age of the patient, and where the trials are being done. General information about clinical trials is also available.

Treatment of Stage III and Stage IV Mycosis Fungoides (Including Sézary Syndrome)

Treatment of Stage III and Stage IV Mycosis Fungoides (Including Sézary Syndrome)

For information about the treatments listed below, see the Treatment Option Overview section.

Treatment of newly diagnosed stage III and stage IV mycosis fungoides including Sézary syndrome is palliative (to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life) and may include the following:

  • Psoralen and ultraviolet A (PUVA) radiation therapy.
  • Ultraviolet B radiation therapy.
  • Extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP) given alone or combined with total skin electron beam radiation therapy.
  • Radiation therapy with total skin electron beam radiation therapy. In some cases, radiation therapy is given to skin lesions, as palliative therapy to reduce tumor size to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
  • Immunotherapy given alone or combined with therapy directed at the skin.
  • Systemic chemotherapy with one or more drugs, which may be combined with therapy directed at the skin.
  • Topical chemotherapy.
  • Other drug therapy (topical corticosteroids, lenalidomide, bexarotene, histone deacetylase inhibitors).
  • Targeted therapy with brentuximab vedotin.
  • A clinical trial of immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy with pembrolizumab.

Use our clinical trial search to find NCI-supported cancer clinical trials that are accepting patients. You can search for trials based on the type of cancer, the age of the patient, and where the trials are being done. General information about clinical trials is also available.

Treatment of Recurrent Mycosis Fungoides (Including Sézary Syndrome)

Treatment of Recurrent Mycosis Fungoides (Including Sézary Syndrome)

For information about the treatments listed below, see the Treatment Option Overview section.

Treatment of recurrent mycosis fungoides including Sézary syndrome may be within a clinical trial and may include the following:

  • Radiation therapy with total skin electron beam radiation therapy. In some cases, radiation therapy is given to skin lesions as palliative therapy to reduce tumor size to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.
  • Psoralen and ultraviolet A (PUVA) radiation therapy, which may be given with immunotherapy.
  • Ultraviolet B radiation.
  • Extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP).
  • Systemic chemotherapy with one or more drugs.
  • Other drug therapy (topical corticosteroids, retinoid therapy, lenalidomide, histone deacetylase inhibitors).
  • Immunotherapy given alone or combined with therapy directed at the skin.
  • High-dose chemotherapy, and sometimes radiation therapy, with stem cell transplant.
  • Targeted therapy (brentuximab vedotin or mogamulizumab).

Use our clinical trial search to find NCI-supported cancer clinical trials that are accepting patients. You can search for trials based on the type of cancer, the age of the patient, and where the trials are being done. General information about clinical trials is also available.

To Learn More About Mycosis Fungoides and Sézary Syndrome

To Learn More About Mycosis Fungoides and Sézary Syndrome

For more information from the National Cancer Institute about mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome, see the following:

  • Lymphoma Home Page
  • Photodynamic Therapy for Cancer
  • Drugs Approved for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Immunotherapy to Treat Cancer
  • Targeted Cancer Therapies

For general cancer information and other resources from the National Cancer Institute, see the following:

  • About Cancer
  • Staging
  • Chemotherapy and You: Support for People With Cancer
  • Radiation Therapy and You: Support for People With Cancer
  • Coping with Cancer
  • Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Cancer
  • For Survivors and Caregivers
About This PDQ Summary

About This PDQ Summary

About PDQ

Physician Data Query (PDQ) is the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) comprehensive cancer information database. The PDQ database contains summaries of the latest published information on cancer prevention, detection, genetics, treatment, supportive care, and complementary and alternative medicine. Most summaries come in two versions. The health professional versions have detailed information written in technical language. The patient versions are written in easy-to-understand, nontechnical language. Both versions have cancer information that is accurate and up to date and most versions are also available in Spanish.

PDQ is a service of the NCI. The NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH is the federal government's center of biomedical research. The PDQ summaries are based on an independent review of the medical literature. They are not policy statements of the NCI or the NIH.

Purpose of This Summary

This PDQ cancer information summary has current information about the treatment of mycosis fungoides (including Sézary Syndrome). It is meant to inform and help patients, families, and caregivers. It does not give formal guidelines or recommendations for making decisions about health care.

Reviewers and Updates

Editorial Boards write the PDQ cancer information summaries and keep them up to date. These Boards are made up of experts in cancer treatment and other specialties related to cancer. The summaries are reviewed regularly and changes are made when there is new information. The date on each summary ("Updated") is the date of the most recent change.

The information in this patient summary was taken from the health professional version, which is reviewed regularly and updated as needed, by the PDQ Adult Treatment Editorial Board.

Clinical Trial Information

A clinical trial is a study to answer a scientific question, such as whether one treatment is better than another. Trials are based on past studies and what has been learned in the laboratory. Each trial answers certain scientific questions in order to find new and better ways to help cancer patients. During treatment clinical trials, information is collected about the effects of a new treatment and how well it works. If a clinical trial shows that a new treatment is better than one currently being used, the new treatment may become "standard." Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment.

Clinical trials can be found online at NCI's website. For more information, call the Cancer Information Service (CIS), NCI's contact center, at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

Permission to Use This Summary

PDQ is a registered trademark. The content of PDQ documents can be used freely as text. It cannot be identified as an NCI PDQ cancer information summary unless the whole summary is shown and it is updated regularly. However, a user would be allowed to write a sentence such as "NCI's PDQ cancer information summary about breast cancer prevention states the risks in the following way: [include excerpt from the summary]."

The best way to cite this PDQ summary is:

PDQ® Adult Treatment Editorial Board. PDQ Mycosis Fungoides (Including Sézary Syndrome) Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Updated <MM/DD/YYYY>. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/lymphoma/patient/mycosis-fungoides-treatment-pdq. Accessed <MM/DD/YYYY>. [PMID: 26389317]

Images in this summary are used with permission of the author(s), artist, and/or publisher for use in the PDQ summaries only. If you want to use an image from a PDQ summary and you are not using the whole summary, you must get permission from the owner. It cannot be given by the National Cancer Institute. Information about using the images in this summary, along with many other images related to cancer can be found in Visuals Online. Visuals Online is a collection of more than 3,000 scientific images.

Disclaimer

The information in these summaries should not be used to make decisions about insurance reimbursement. More information on insurance coverage is available on Cancer.gov on the Managing Cancer Care page.

Contact Us

More information about contacting us or receiving help with the Cancer.gov website can be found on our Contact Us for Help page. Questions can also be submitted to Cancer.gov through the website's E-mail Us.

Last Revised: 2022-03-25


If you want to know more about cancer and how it is treated, or if you wish to know about clinical trials for your type of cancer, you can call the NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-422-6237, toll free. A trained information specialist can talk with you and answer your questions.


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Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities  that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

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