Doctor's Responses Archive

Viewer Question:
Tell me more about polymyositis inside the lungs (pulmonary), using chemotherapy treatment for it, seriousness and prognosis?

Doctor's Response:
Polymyositis is characterized by inflammation of muscle. It can, however, be associated with lung disease.

There are a variety of lung abnormalities that can occur in patients with polymyositis. These include scarring of the lung tissue (referred to as pulmonary fibrosis or interstitial lung disease), inflammation of the lining around the lungs (pleuritis), inflammation of the blood vessels supplying the lungs (vasculitis), and infections (pneumonia).

Pulmonary fibrosis and vasculitis can be very serious and carry a worse prognosis than patients without these complications. Treatment can involve strong medications directed toward stopping the inflammation and suppressing the immune system. These include cortisone-related medications, such as prednisone, and cyclophosphamide/CYTOXAN.

Infections can require antibiotic treatments which are directed against the particular microbe causing them.

It is of note that the medication methotrexate that is used to treat the muscle disease of polymyositis can actually cause a lung scarring condition (although this is very uncommon).

A final word. Patients with polymyositis, in particular, should not smoke.


Last Editorial Review: 12/29/2004