Mycosis fungoides is a disease in which T-cell lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) become malignant (cancerous) and affect the skin. This condition is one of the most common types of T-cell lymphoma. Mycosis fungoides is characterized by a scaly, red rash that develops on the skin, particularly on areas that are not usually exposed to the sun. The rash may last for months or years without causing any symptoms. Over time, a thin, reddened, eczema-like rash may develop, followed by thickened, red patches of skin. Finally, tumors form which may develop into ulcers and become infected. Mycosis fungoides is difficult to cure. Treatment is usually palliative, with the intention of relieving symptoms and improving the quality of life.
When the rash first appeared in 2008, Paul Raffer thought it was most likely something quite benign. With steroid treatment the rash would get better, but then it would come back, worse than before. After a consultation with a dermatology specialist ruled out an allergic reaction, a dermatopathologist took a second look at Raffer’s skin and shared the results: mycosis fungoides, a type of lymphoma.