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Epidemiology of Systemic Sclerosis (Scleroderma)

THOMAS A. MEDSGER JR., M.D.; and ALFONSE T. MASI, M.D., Dr. P.H., F.A.C.P.
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▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Thomas A. Medsger, Jr., M.D., CW-426, Veterans Administration Hospital, 1030 Jefferson Ave., Memphis, Tenn. 38104


Memphis, Tennessee


Ann Intern Med. 1971;74(5):714-721. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-74-5-714
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A large-scale epidemiologic study of scleroderma was completed, including 86 patients who met specified criteria and who were hospital-diagnosed from 1947 through 1968. The average annual incidence was 2.7 new patients per million population, with rates three times higher in females than males for both whites and negroes. No significant racial differences in incidence were observed. There were few childhood cases compared with adult cases, and no male scleroderma patient under age 25 was identified. Incidence increased with age, peaking in the oldest age group studied (65+ years). No socioeconomic variables affecting scleroderma incidence were identified, nor was there epidemiologic evidence of an infectious agent contributing to its cause. The observed age, race, and sex pattern of occurrence of scleroderma resembles that of adult rheumatoid arthritis. Considering the occurrence of vascular lesions in scleroderma, these epidemiologic data suggest a sex- and age-influenced vascular abnormality involved in this disease.

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