Reports From National Arthritis Meeting

Dr. Shiel Gives Perspectives Of Interest On Scleroderma From
2001 Annual Scientific Meeting Of The American College Of Rheumatology

Below are perspectives on key reports presented at the recent national meeting of the American College of Rheumatology:

Introduction

Scleroderma, also referred to as systemic sclerosis, is a disease of the connective tissue. Scleroderma is characterized by the formation of scar tissue (fibrosis) in the skin and organs of the body. The cause of scleroderma is not known. Researchers have found some evidence that genes are important factors. This means that inheritance at least plays a partial role. It is not unusual to find other autoimmune diseases in the families of scleroderma patients. The disease is more frequent in females than in males.

Below are perspectives on key reports presented at the recent national meeting of the American College of Rheumatology:

Lung Disease

Lung scarring (pulmonary fibrosis) did not progress in most patients with systemic sclerosis, even without cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), over 6 years. 

Dr. Shiel's Perspective: Recognizing that lung scarring conditions can seriously damage the lung, and that Cytoxan can improve many lung scarring conditions, it is now difficult to recommend this potentially toxic drug for the scarring form of scleroderma lung (pulmonary fibrosis). This form of lung disease must be distinguished from inflammation of the lungs' tiny air sacs (alveolitis), as in the next report below.