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NCCN Guidelines for Patients


Mycosis Fungoides, Version 1.2016


Overview of cancer treatments Phototherapy

much so partly depends on how often and how much

radiation you receive. For local treatment, side effects

depend on the treatment site. Ask your doctor if you

will receive low- or high-dose treatment and what side

effects you should expect.

Depending on the dose, your treated skin may look

and feel as if it is sunburned. It may also become dry,

sore, and feel painful when touched. Open sores may

occur and may become infected. Short-term loss or

thinning of your hair at the treatment site is common.

Your nails may come off or stop growing for a while.

You may also sweat less.

Not all side effects of radiation are listed here.

Please ask your treatment team for a complete list of

common and rare side effects. If a side effect bothers

you, tell your treatment team. There may be ways to

help you feel better. There are also ways to prevent

some side effects.


Phototherapy is a treatment that uses UV (





radiation. UV radiation is light energy that can’t be

seen. Think of sunlight that can be seen versus

unseen UV light from the sun that can cause

sunburns. UV radiation does not travel as far as

electrons and x-rays that are used in radiation

therapy. UVA is long-wave light and UVB is short-

wave light that is used in phototherapy.

UVB phototherapy

UVB phototherapy is a skin treatment of mycosis

fungoides. It is used to treat patches and thin plaques.

Either narrowband or broadband UVB can be

used, but narrowband is advised by most doctors.

Narrowband consists of a 311 to 312 nm wavelength

of UV radiation. Broadband consists of 290 to 320 nm


Treatment often occurs at a dermatology office. You

will stand undressed in a cabinet with fluorescent light

tubes for about 30 minutes. Some parts of your body,

such as your eyes, will be shielded. The dose of UVB is

increased at each visit. Visits occur 3 to 5 times a week.

Skin lesions often start to fade in 20 to 40 visits. Once

the lesions are gone, the number of visits will be

reduced slowly then will be stopped. UVB will cause

your skin to turn red. Sometimes, skin feels painful as

if it got sunburned. High exposure to UVB increases

the chance of getting skin cancer.


PUVA is a skin treatment that consists of psoralen

and UVA. UVA travels deeper into the skin than

UVB. Thus, PUVA damages skin more so than UVB

phototherapy. PUVA is used to treat thick plaques. It

is also called photochemotherapy.

About two hours before UVA exposure, you

will receive psoralen. Psoralen sensitizes your

skin to UVA. You may take psoralen in pill form

(methoxsalen) or soak in it during a bath. To treat

most of your skin, you may stand in a cabinet that has

many UVA bulbs. Otherwise, there may be devices

to treat smaller skin areas. Some parts of your body,

such as your eyes, will be shielded. Exposure to UVA

is about 30 minutes.

PUVA is given three times a week until the lesions are

gone. This can take between 2 and 6 months. Once

the lesions are gone, PUVA is reduced very slowly

down to once every two weeks.

Shortly after treatment, your skin may look red, feel

itchy and dry, and may be blistered. You may also

feel nauseated. Protect your skin from the sun for at

least 24 hours after treatment. Long-term side effects

include cataracts. PUVA increases the chance of

getting another skin cancer, especially if you received

PUVA over a long period of time.