Scleroderma Patients Should Not Be Denied Transplant Opportunities, Study Suggests

Researchers at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City recently presented findings at the American College of Rheumatology’s Annual Meeting in Boston claiming that end-stage lung disease Scleroderma patients should not be denied lung transplant opportunities due to extra-pulmonary factors or short-term and long-term survival concerns.

Systemic sclerosis (SSc), more commonly known as scleroderma, is an autoimmune disease affecting the skin and other organs. Symptoms include tightening and thickening of the skin, as well as scarring and inflammation of organs including the lungs, heart, kidneys, and intestinal system. This rare condition (75,000-100,000 in the U.S.) mainly affects women.

As Elana J. Bernstein, MD, MSc, of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, explained: “Although many transplant centers are hesitant to offer lung transplantation to patients with SSc due to concern about extra-pulmonary involvement that might affect survival, there are very few data to support the impression that survival is worse in SSc patients compared to non-SSc patients (…) In fact, previous studies — albeit limited to small case series and small cohort studies — suggest that adults with SSc have similar mortality rates to adults with ILD and PAH following lung transplantation.”

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