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Scleroderma and African Americans

What is the incidence and prevalence of scleroderma in African Americans? 

Incidence refers to the number of newly diagnosed cases of systemic sclerosis, while prevalence is the total number of cases.  Among African Americans, the incidence of systemic sclerosis is higher than it is in non-African Americans. 

Among all African Americans, 23.7 people per million are diagnosed with systemic sclerosis, while the comparable rate among non-African Americans is 18.3 people per million diagnosed.  We see a similar pattern when looking at the prevalence of 315 of every one million African Americans diagnosed with systemic sclerosis.  In contrast, 225 of every one million non-African Americans are diagnosed with systemic sclerosis. 

What is the difference in disease progression between African Americans with scleroderma and a non-African Americans?

The progression of scleroderma in African American with the disease can be different than in non-African Americans due to differences in autoantibodies.  Generally speaking, African Americans with scleroderma are diagnosed at a younger age than non-African Americans are diagnosed.  Additionally, African Americans far more frequently have the diffuse cutaneous form of systemic sclerosis, and they are more likely to have lung and other organ involvement than occurs among non-African Americans. 

How do symptoms among African Americans with scleroderma compare to symptoms of non-African American with scleroderma?

For African Americans with scleroderma, hyperpigmentation (patches of skin that become darker than the skin around it) is commonly seen early in the diagnosis on the hands, feet and face.

Raynaud Phenomenon is also not as obvious and may even be less severe than it could be in a non-African Americans.  More severe G.I. tract involvement and muscle disease is more commonly seen in African Americans with the disease.

   Voice cover summer 2015 African Americans

Scleroderma Genomics and Health Disparities Unit at National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

niams.jpegThe Scleroderma Genomics and Health Disparities Unit is focused on enhancing our understanding of the genetic risk factors involved in scleroderma pathogenesis.  Scleroderma (systemic sclerosis) is a chronic multisystem disease that is clinically characterized by progressive fibrosis of the skin and internal organs, vasculopathy, and autoimmunity.  Scleroderma causes significant morbidity and mortality, and the only treatment options are organ based and primarily symptom management.  Scleroderma is a health disparity in African Americans who have a higher prevalence of scleroderma than European Americans.  African Americans with scleroderma have an earlier age of onset and are more likely to manifest diffuse skin involvement, interstitial lung disease (ILD), and pulmonary arterial hypertension.

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Resources for Newly Diagnosed
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