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The curious case of sarcoidosis

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The lungs are affected in nine out of ten people w The lungs are affected in nine out of ten people with sarcoidosis, but the condition may be asymptomatic

Sarcoid was first described in 1889 by the Norwegian dermatologist Caesar Boeck. He used the term to describe a skin lesion with histologic resemblance to a sarcoma, caused by the disease we now know as sarcoidosis.1,2 Boeck’s sarcoid was initially seen as a dermatological curiosity, but in his later work, Boeck recognised the more generalised character of the disease.1 Sarcoidosis is still an enigmatic disease with many presentations and different outcomes.3

Sarcoidosis is a multisystemic granulomatous disease. It has an unknown aetiology and a very variable presentation, prognosis, and progression. It is a relatively rare condition, estimated to affect one in every 10,000 people in the UK.4 The General Practice Database suggests an incidence of approximately three per 100,000 person years.5

Sarcoidosis most often affects the lungs and skin, causing small patches of red and swollen tissue called granulomas to develop. It involves the lungs in around 90% of patients, but can affect any organ.4 The skin, liver and eyes are the most frequent extrapulmonary sites.6

In approximately half of patients the lungs are involved without other organ disease.


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