Mycosis fungoides metastasizing to the brain parenchyma: case report

Neurosurgery. 1998 Apr;42(4):933-7. doi: 10.1097/00006123-199804000-00144.


Objective and importance: Mycosis fungoides is a rare T-cell lymphoma of the skin that can, in one-half to three-quarters of patients suffering from this disease, involve the viscera in late stages of the disease. Although autopsy series performed more than 2 decades ago showed that the incidence of metastatic mycosis fungoides to the central nervous system is approximately one of seven, a total of only several dozen cases have been reported to date. As compared to meningeal involvement, intraparenchymal metastases are even rarer. We describe a biopsy-proven case of intraparenchymal central nervous system mycosis fungoides in a patient with nonprogressive skin involvement and no detectable visceral involvement, and we present a review of the relevant literature.

Clinical presentation: A 68-year-old man, 3 years after the diagnosis of his skin disease, developed fatigue, confusion, and frontal lobe signs without the presence of cerebriform cells in the peripheral blood or any other clinical evidence of visceral involvement. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed a diffuse area of increased T2-weighted signal involving the white matter of both cerebral hemispheres as well as a focal area of T2 abnormality along the body of the corpus callosum. The radiological differential diagnosis was either leukodystrophy caused by chemotherapy, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, or glioma with associated white matter changes.

Intervention: A stereotactic serial brain biopsy revealed diffuse perivascular infiltrates of atypical lymphocytes, as well as several large cells with cerebriform nuclei consistent with mycosis fungoides. The cells were immunoreactive for LCA, MT1, UCHL1, and CD3.

Conclusion: We stress the importance of including mycosis fungoides as part of the differential diagnosis for a brain lesion in patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, because treatments do exist, and we conclude that a serial stereotactic biopsy may be necessary to provide a definitive diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brain / surgery
  • Brain Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mycosis Fungoides / diagnosis
  • Mycosis Fungoides / pathology
  • Mycosis Fungoides / surgery*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*