After the first round of symptoms, multiple sclerosis can stay mild without causing major problems for decades, a 30-year British study indicates.
Karen K. Chung of the University College London Institute of Neurology discussed the findings at the ECTRIMS-ACTRIMS meeting in Paris, which started Oct. 25 and runs until 28. His presentation was titled “Does ‘benign’ multiple sclerosis exist? A 30-year follow-up study of people presenting with clinically isolated syndrome.”
MS affects different people in different ways. Many patients develop nervous system impairments over time, while others remain unaffected.
Scientists refer to cases with no nervous system impairment as benign MS. But its exact definition and characteristics are still a matter of debate. And some researchers contend that benign MS does not exist.
British researchers wanted to know if people with MS can have a benign form of the disease 30 years after the first symptoms appear.
The team’s intent was to follow 132 patients with clinically isolated syndrome, or CIS — a precursor to MS — for 30 years. Some died or dropped out before the study was completed.
Researchers gave the patients magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and disability assessments every five years. The disability yardstick they used was the Expanded Disability Status Scale, or EDSS.
About halfway through the study, the team added an MS functional composite test to the measurements. It assessed leg and arm function, and cognition.
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