Sarcoidosis is a disease due to inflammation. It can appear in almost any organ of the body most often affecting the lungs, lymph nodes, skin or eyes.
No one knows the cause of sarcoidosis. In fact, there maybe multiple causes or initiators. The disease can appear suddenly and disappear. Or it can develop gradually and go on to produce symptoms that come and go, sometimes for a lifetime. In many people it is asymptomatic. As sarcoidosis progresses, small lumps, or granulomas, appear in the affected organs. In the majority of cases, these granulomas do not disappear; the organs may remain inflamed or scarred (fibrotic).
Two skin doctors working independently, Dr. Jonathan Hutchinson and Dr. Caesar Boeck in Norway, first identified sarcoidosis over 100 years ago. Sarcoidosis was originally called Hutchinson’s disease or Boeck’s disease. Sarcoidosis was once considered a rare disease. We now know that it is a common chronic illness that appears all over the world. Indeed, it is the most common fibrotic lung disorder and occurs often enough in the United States for Congress to have declared a National Sarcoidosis Awareness Day in 1990.
Much about the cause(s) of sarcoidosis remains unknown. But, if you have sarcoidosis you can be reassured that patients with sarcoidosis are usually asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. In most cases, the illness does not interfere with the patient’s life, is quite stable and often goes away by itself. Sarcoidosis is not cancer. It is not contagious, and your friends and family will not catch it from you.