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Multiple Sclerosis Progression - Topic Overview

Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects different people in different ways. For people who have only mild symptoms from time to time, the disease may not have much impact on their everyday lives. People with more severe MS have frequently recurring or ongoing symptoms and may become disabled within a few years.

Most people with MS are between these extremes. For them, MS involves a series of attacks that cause symptoms. These attacks are called relapses, flares, or exacerbations. They may last for days or weeks and then partially or completely go away. Relapses may be mild or severe and tend to recur over a period of years. They may become worse and more frequent over time, with symptoms becoming more severe and disabling. For most people with MS, the disease follows a relapsing-remitting course, at least at first. In 8 to 9 out of 10 people with this type of MS, the relapsing-remitting phase lasts about 20 years.1

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A diagnosis of MS can be difficult to accept for the thousands of healthy, active people whom the disease strikes without warning. Though rarely life-threatening, MS has no cure. Most people live with the disease for decades. But many face increasing disability as they get older.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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