Folliculotropic Mycosis Fungoides: An Aggressive Variant of Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma

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Abstract

Objectives

To study the clinical features, therapeutic responses, and outcomes in patients with folliculotropic mycosis fungoides (FMF) and to compare our single-center experience of 43 patients with the findings from the Dutch Cutaneous Lymphoma Group.

Setting

A single-center experience from the Northwestern University Multidisciplinary Cutaneous Lymphoma Group.

Patients

Forty-three patients with FMF were included in the study and compared with 43 age- and stage-matched patients with classic epidermotropic mycosis fungoides (MF) with similar follow-up time.

Results

Folliculotropic mycosis fungoides showed distinct clinical features, with 37 patients having facial involvement (86%) and only 6 having lesions limited to the torso (14%). The morphologic spectrum of lesions is broad and includes erythematous papules and plaques with follicular prominence with or without alopecia; comedonal, acneiform, and cystic lesions; alopecic patches with or without scarring; and nodular and prurigolike lesions. Sixty-five percent of patients had alopecia, which in 71% of cases involved the face. Severe pruritus was seen in 68% of patients. In general, patients responded poorly to skin-directed therapy and in almost all cases required systemic agents to induce even a partial remission, including patients with early-stage disease. Overall survival was poor. Patients with early-stage disease (≤IIA) had a 10-year survival of 82%, which took a steep drop off to 41% by 15 years. Patients with late-stage disease (≥IIB) had an outcome similar to those patients in the control group with conventional epidermotropic MF of a similar stage.

Conclusions

The morphologic spectrum of clinical presentation for FMF is broad and distinct from those in conventional MF. This is at least partially attributed to the ability of FMF to simulate a variety of inflammatory conditions afflicting the follicular unit. The disease course is aggressive, and many patients, including those with early disease, show a poor outcome particularly between 10 and 15 years after the initial onset of disease. Response to skin-directed therapy is poor even in early-stage disease, and our best results were seen with psoralen plus UV-A (PUVA) therapy with oral bexarotene or PUVA with interferon alfa. These findings corroborate those of the Dutch Cutaneous Lymphoma Group and further validate the classification of FMF as a distinct entity.

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