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What is Histiocytosis? Print E-mail
Written by Mike Cohen   
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Histiocytosis refers to a group of disorders in which there is an abnormal amount of scavenger cells, called histiocytes, in the blood.

What is going on in the body?

There are histiocytosis diseases that affect adults and those that affect children. In adults, the lungs are affected. There is inflammation of the small airways and small blood vessels in the lungs. It is often linked with cigarette smoking. In children the bones are affected. In many cases the skull is involved. However, any other single site or multiple sites can be affected.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?
Although the cause of histiocytosis is unknown, it is much more likely to occur in a person who smokes cigarettes.

What are the treatments for the condition?
Histiocytosis is treated with corticosteroids, such as prednisone and methotrexate. These help reduce inflammation in the lungs. Other medications, such as cyclophosphamide, may also be tried. However, no therapy clearly helps this disease. Sometimes radiation therapy is used to treat bone lesions. A person who smokes should stop smoking.

What are the side effects of the treatments?
Side effects vary depending on the medication, but may include allergic reactions.

What happens after treatment for the condition?
Complications can occur with histiocytosis. A sudden collapse of the lung, known as atelectasis, is common. This disorder can lead to death due to lung or heart failure.

How is the condition monitored?
A series of x-rays and pulmonary function tests may be needed to see how the histiocytosis changes over time. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.


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