Sarcoidosis: an Overview
Sarcoidosis is a multi-systemic inflammatory disorder of unknown cause, and has no cure. Sarcoidosis affects people of all ages and races; however, it's more common among women than men, and among African Americans and those of Asian, German, Irish, Puerto Rican and Scandinavian origin. In the U.S., the disease affects African Americans somewhat more often and more severely than whites. Currently, there are several NIH-funded studies recruiting volunteers for studies on sarcoidosis.
Waring: Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that produces small grainy lumps called granulomas.
Reynolds: A granuloma is microscopic, but they get large—they get a cluster—and they're a kind of a rounded density. Waring: Dr. Herbert Reynolds at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute explains that sarcoidosis usually starts in the lungs, skin, or lymph nodes.
Reynolds: It can involve multiple organs and does so in a fairly large percentage of people although about 90, almost 100 percent of the people, at some point in the illness, have the lungs involved.
Waring: The granulomas may clear up on their own, but if they don't, they can cause problems, including shortness of breath and cough, or other symptoms like fever, fatigue, arthritis and a red, bumpy rash. But Dr. Reynolds stresses that people can have sarcoidosis without knowing it.
Reynolds: It's been well-substantiated that we don't find all the cases.
Waring: Sarcoidosis affects people of all ages and races.
Reynolds: There are more women have the disease than men, although both can.
Waring: African American women in particular may be older when they are first diagnosed with sarcoidosis. Reynolds: It's been missed and therefore they're more likely to have chronic disease and so they don't get treatment and attention early on.
Waring: Dr. Reynolds says it's important to have regular physical exams, including eye exams. He adds that sarcoidosis can disappear without any treatment; but, if the disease affects certain organs, such as your eyes, heart, or brain, you'll need treatment even if you don't have symptoms. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute is very active in sarcoidosis research. Again Dr. Reynolds:
Reynolds: A very significant thing that the NIH-NHLBI sponsored was something called the ACCESS Study. The ACCESS study was an attempt to look at people with sarcoidosis who had very well-defined disease and look at it particularly in terms of the cause of it. And the NIH then sponsored another study in family members that was an offshoot of this ACCESS study that's called the SAGA, S-A-G-A.
Waring: There is no cure, but most patients with sarcoidosis can expect to live normal and active lives. If you have been diagnosed with sarcoidosis, you can ask your doctor about becoming a volunteer in an NIH Clinical Trial. To find out more, visit the website clinicaltrials.gov or www.nhlbi.nih.gov. This is Belle Waring, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Belle Waring
Sound Bite: Dr. Herbert Reynolds
Topic: sarcoidosis, granuloma, inflammation, inflammatory disease, lung, skin