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Multiple Sclerosis in Brief

Basics

  • Sclerosis is a Greek word meaning hardening of tissue or scars.
  • MS is not contagious.
  • Diagnosis of MS is usually between 20 and 40 years of age.
  • Among young adults, MS is the most common disease of the central nervous system.
  • MS is not inherited or genetically transmitted, although there does seem to be some genetic susceptibility to the disease.
  • MS does not significantly affect life span.
  • MS is a progressive disease for which there is not yet a cure.
  • Increased understanding of MS has led to the development of many new treatments that target both the disease process and its many symptoms.

Facets of MS

  • There are four types of MS: relapsing-remitting, secondary-progressive, primary progressive and progressive relapsing.
  • About 85 percent of those who are newly diagnosed have the relapsing-remitting form of MS.
  • The course of the disease is unpredictable and no two people will experience the same set of symptoms.
  • Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of MS.
  • Without disease-modifying therapy, about 50 percent of those diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS will become progressive at 10 years.
  • Without disease-modifying therapy, about one-third of those diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS will be using a wheelchair at 20 years.

By the numbers

  • An estimated 2,500,000 around the world have MS.
  • In countries further from the equator, the incidence of MS increases.
  • More than 400,000 people in the United States have MS.
  • About 45 percent of the people with MS are not severely affected by the disease.
  • MS affects more women than men, with a ratio of 2:1.


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Unless otherwise specified, all medical content is compiled by MSF staff and reviewed for accuracy by a member of our Medical Advisory Board.

The MSF strives to present clear and unbiased information. This site is partially funded through a grant from Bayer Healthcare, LLC.

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