Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Multiple Sclerosis Health Center

Font Size

Nancy Davis Foundation: Multiple Sclerosis FAQ

Is there a cure for Multiple Sclerosis?

Although no cure exists at present for MS, many symptoms can be relieved and the severity of attacks may be reduced through drugs such as Avonex, Betaseron, Copaxone, Extavia, Novantrone, Rebif and Tysabri.  Several of these drugs are interferons (immune system proteins). Interferons and Copaxone are first-line therapies that modify the immune response and reduce by about 30% the frequency of relapses or attacks. 

Progressive MS symptoms are often less responsive to current MS therapies, although there may be a limited role for approved drugs in patients with progressive MS who continue to have exacerbations. The MRI has redefined the natural history of MS and has proven an invaluable aid in diagnosing and monitoring the disease. Scientists are now able to visualize and follow the development of MS lesions in the brain and spinal cord using MRI. This ability is a tremendous aid in assessing a person’s response to therapy and can speed the process of evaluating new treatments. Because of these advances, investigators are optimistic that safer and more effective treatments are on the way to unlock the mysteries of MS.

Statistics About MS

  • Most people experience their first symptoms of multiple sclerosis between the ages of 20 and 40, but a diagnosis is often delayed.
  • Symptoms rarely begin before age 15 or after age 60. However, scientists have documented cases of MS in children as young as two and elderly adults.
  • Caucasian individuals are more than twice as likely as other races to develop MS.
  • In general, women are affected almost twice as much as men; however, among patients who develop the symptoms of MS at a later age, the gender ratio is more balanced. Also, the diagnosis in children before puberty is a 1/1 ratio while after puberty it is 2/1 ratio with more women being diagnosed than men.
  • There are currently about 250,000 to 350,000 people in the United States who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
  • There are 2 million people worldwide living with MS.
  • This estimate suggests that approximately 200 new cases are diagnosed each week.
  • MS is five times more prevalent in temperate climates -- such as those found in the northern United States, Canada, and Europe -- than in tropical regions.
  • Furthermore, the age of 15 seems to be significant in terms of risk for developing the disease. Some studies indicate that a person moving from a high-risk (temperate) to a low-risk (tropical) area before the age of 15 tends to adopt the risk (in this case, low) of the new area and vice versa. Other studies suggest that people moving after age 15 maintain the risk of the area where they grew up.
1|2

WebMD Medical Reference from the Nancy Davis Foundation for Multiple Sclerosis

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on April 26, 2010

Today on WebMD

brain and teriflunomide molecule
ARTICLE
neural fiber
ARTICLE
 
white blood cells
VIDEO
linguini with asparagus and mushrooms
ARTICLE
 
brain scan
ARTICLE
worried woman
ARTICLE
 
person writin in a notebook
ARTICLE
couple embracing
ARTICLE
 
man with cane
SLIDESHOW
skull and neck xray
ARTICLE
 
Stressed man
ARTICLE
doctor feeling patients neck
ASSESSMENT