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Rheumatol Int. 1992;12(2):71-5.

Changes in clinical features of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus followed prospectively over 2 decades.

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Department of Rheumatology, Dr. Daniel den Hoed Cancer Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


In the past decades the general concept of the disease course and the prognosis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has changed dramatically. The improvement in prognosis of our SLE patients is often said to be related to the growing awareness of the disease. This study focussed on whether or not the clinical features at the onset of the disease, and at diagnosis, and the clinical course as well as the age at the onset of the disease had changed during the past decades. No obvious differences were observed in the age at the onset of the disease or in the age at diagnosis. Of the 22 clinical signs studied, only the prevalence of Raynaud's phenomenon at the onset of the disease had increased during the past 20 years. At diagnosis, the prevalence of oral ulcers and false positive syphilis test had decreased. Only small differences in the type but not in the number of exacerbations were observed; in the past 20 years, the prevalence of renal involvement increased from 20% to 43%. However, this was not significant. Our results did not support the theory that during the past 2 decades the disease had changed in its expression, neither did we find that the disease is presently diagnosed at an earlier age, as would be expected from the increased awareness of the disease.

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