Neurofibromatosis is a chronic genetic disease that causes uncontrolled growth of tumors and many patients have neurofibromas on the skin that some confuse with the symptoms of monkeypox.
- controversy The man who was warned by a doctor on the subway about his lack of protection against monkeypox denies the doctor: “I suffer from neurofibromatosis”
- Health A doctor’s complaint about a man with monkeypox who was traveling near other people on the subway
The Association of People Affected by Neurofibromatosis (AANF) has appealed to the professional community, the media and the Administration to explain the differences between this pathology and monkeypox, since some patients “have been rebuked on the street” due to the confusion between the skin lesions of both diseases. .
The neurofibromatosis is a chronic, degenerative, incurable genetic disease that can be disabling, caused by an alteration of chromosomes 17 and 22 that causes uncontrolled growth of tumors in almost the entire body. The physical, mental, sensory and social complications faced by those affected are multiple and their evolution highly variable, from physical deformities to cancer and even death.
A large part of the patients have cutaneous neurofibromas, which are a type of benign tumor with the appearance of “lumps” that can appear in different parts of the body; be in number, from a few tens to hundreds, and of different sizes. They are symptoms with a significant aesthetic affectation that can cause a poor self-image, low self-esteem, rejection and social isolation.
“Many neurofibromatosis patients have been harassed on the street, so we appeal to the social awareness and sensitization so that they help us not to increase the stigmatization that they already suffer”, declared Agustón Campos, president of the AANF. “The lesions between both pathologies are clearly different”, affirms Dr. Hctor Salvador, pediatric oncologist at Hospital Sant Joan de Deu.
“Smallpox deals with acute lesions (appear in days) and vesiculopustular (like chickenpox). In very early stages there may be some pustular lesion and there could perhaps lead to doubts for a person on the street, “he explains.” On the other hand, neurofibromas are lesions of very slow evolution (years). In the initial phase they are flat, purple and over time they tend to slowly evolve into wart-like lesions of different sizes. Neurofibromas are obviously not contagious lesions, and, unlike monkeypox, it rarely affects the palms and soles.”
For his part, the dermatologist Francisco Javier García, from the University Clinic of Navarra, has condemned the sharing of a clinical photograph of a person on social networks or in the media, “and even less so if it can be recognised”. On the other hand, he has insisted that there is no similarity between monkeypox lesions and other skin diseases such as neurofibromatosis. In the latter, the lesions are skin-colored or slightly pigmented.
On the other hand, in the case of monkeypox, an infectious and contagious disease, they start with pink-based papules and inflamed area in the contagion contact area, which may, in a second phase, spread to other areas. “Clinically they don’t share any similarities,” she reiterates.
For his part, Dr. Ignacio Blanco, National Coordinator of the European Network of Reference Centers, recalls that “there are many other diseases that manifest themselves on the skin and that are not contagious or involve carelessness, such as psoriasis.” “The lesions in neurofibromatosis do not appear acutely nor, unfortunately, do they disappear. Patients with neurofibromas live with these lesions and must suffer the curious looks of people. And many times they are forced to give explanations about injuries and that they are not contagious, “he lamented.
For this reason, they ask the experts and the Administration to disseminate “clear and concise” information on the clinical manifestations of monkeypox and its difference with other dermatological affections such as neurofibromatosis. “For many people with neurofibromatosis type 1, the process of accepting the disease is long and difficult. Social accusation can reverse the process, and even more so if it is a false accusation, as is being done with monkeypox,” they warn.