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Prolonged Remission Rare in Lupus

Lack of disease for at least five years uncommon, study says

FRIDAY, Oct. 24, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Prolonged remission is rare in people with lupus, claims a Canadian study.

The findings were presented Oct. 24 at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in Orlando, Fla.

The study included 704 people registered with the University of Toronto Lupus Clinic Database between 1970 and 1997. The participants were followed at the clinic at least every 18 months.

Of the 704 patients, 12 achieved prolonged remission.

The researchers found only one statistically significant difference between the dozen who achieved prolonged remission and the other lupus patients. Those in prolonged remission were less likely to have been on corticosteroid or immunosuppressant therapy, and less likely to be anti dsDNA antibody positive (a blood test that indicates the presence of lupus).

Those in prolonged remission also had a lower level of disease activity over time.

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory disorder that results from an overactive immune system that produces too many abnormal antibodies, which react with the patient's own tissues. While the exact cause of lupus is not known, it's believed that heredity, environment and hormonal changes may be factors.

"Although we have made great strides in prolonging survival in patients with (lupus), very few patients have a prolonged period of being disease- and treatment-free," according to a prepared statement from researcher Dr. Murray Urowitz, the director of the University of Toronto's Center for Prognosis Studies in the Rheumatic Diseases at Toronto Western Hospital.

"Thus we achieve disease suppression rather than disease remission. Therefore, with current therapies continued vigilance for disease recurrence is necessary," Urowitz adds.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about lupus.

SOURCE: American College of Rheumatology, news release, Oct. 24, 2003
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