Sarcoidosis is a rare disease that leads to inflammation, usually in the lungs, skin, or lymph nodes, though it can affect any organ in the body. It starts as tiny, grain-like lumps of inflamed cells called granulomas. If left untreated and too many of these clumps form, they can interfere with an organ’s structure and function. This chronic inflammation can lead to permanent scarring of organ tissue, known as fibrosis.
Sarcoidosis affects the lungs in about 90% of cases. It occurs mostly in people age 20-50, African Americans, and people of Northern European origin, though it can affect people of any age or race. Women are slightly more likely to develop the disease. The cause is not known, and there is no cure.
Common symptoms include cough, shortness of breath, weight loss, night sweats, and fatigue, but many people with sarcoidosis have no symptoms. A type of steroid called prednisone is the main treatment, though not everyone who has the disease needs treatment. Tests to diagnose sarcoidosis include chest X-rays, lung function tests, and a biopsy (testing of a small tissue sample).
The UAB Multidisciplinary Sarcoidosis Clinic is focused on better understanding and treating sarcoidosis, to help patients with serious cases live longer, healthier lives. The World Association of Sarcoidosis and Other Granulomatous Disorders (WASOG) and the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research (FSR) have recognized UAB Medicine as a Sarcoidosis Center of Excellence, and UAB is home to one of the largest sarcoidosis centers in the southeast.
The majority of sarcoidosis cases involve the lungs, so UAB Pulmonary Services often plays a lead role in caring for patients with the disease. Our program is ranked among the best of its kind in the nation, and our physicians are consistently listed among the Best Doctors in America for lung disease. Because UAB is a major center for research, patients may have access to clinical studies and treatments that are not available at other medical centers.
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