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How common is truly benign MS in a UK population?

Tallantyre, Emma Clare ORCID:, Major, Paula C., Atherton, Michael J., Davies, W. Adam, Joseph, Fady, Tomassini, Valentina ORCID:, Pickersgill, Trevor P., Harding, Katharine E., Willis, Mark Douglas ORCID:, Winter, Mia and Robertson, Neil P. ORCID: 2018. How common is truly benign MS in a UK population? Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry 90 , pp. 522-528. 10.1136/jnnp-2018-318802

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Objectives The prevalence and definition of benign multiple sclerosis (BMS) remain controversial. Most definitions are based on the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS), not encompassing the wider impact of disease. The explanation for favourable outcomes remains unclear. We aim to provide a detailed characterisation of patients with low EDSS scores at long disease durations. Methods We screened a population-based registry containing 3062 people with MS to identify individuals with unlimited walking ability at disease durations >15 years. A representative cohort underwent detailed clinical assessment and classified as having BMS according to EDSS score <3, no significant fatigue, mood disturbance, cognitive impairment or disrupted employment, and had not received a disease-modifying therapy. We determined patient-reported perceptions of MS status and made comparisons with EDSS-based definitions. Results Of 1049 patients with disease duration of >15 years, 200 (19.1%) had most recent EDSS score <4.0. Detailed contemporary clinical assessment of a representative sample of 60 of these patients revealed 48 (80%) had an EDSS score of <4.0, 35 (58%) <3.0 and 16 (27%) <2.0. Only nine (15%) fulfilled our criteria for BMS; impaired cognition (57%) and effects on employment (52%) the most common causes for exclusion. Meanwhile, 33/60 (69%) patients considered their disease benign. Population frequency for BMS was estimated at 2.9% (95% CI 2.0 to 4.1). Conclusions Comprehensive assessment reveals a small minority of people with MS who appear genuinely benign after 15 years. Study of such individuals may uncover insights about disease pathogenesis. However, discrepancy between patient perception and clinician perception of BMS undermines use of the term ‘benign’ in clinical settings.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN: 0022-3050
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 25 July 2018
Date of Acceptance: 23 July 2018
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2023 16:33

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