What Exactly is 'Pre-Scleroderma'?

What does the term 'pre-scleroderma' actually mean and what should you ask your consultant if you are given this diagnosis?

To help clarify the issue, we asked specialist consultant Professor Chris Denton on what exactly is meant by the term 'pre-scleroderma'.

Professor Chris Denton explains:

“(Pre-scleroderma) is a concept that can be confusing to doctors and patients but does have some value. One limitation is that there is no formal definition at the moment although relevant research is ongoing.

Like any complex long term disease scleroderma in its various forms can take time to develop and so there will be individuals where some features that may reflect scleroderma have developed (such as Raynaud's phenomenon) but not enough to make a definite diagnosis (of scleroderma).

However not all such cases will necessarily progress and so it is important to look at each patient individually to determine what features they have.

The term is most often applied to patients with Raynaud's phenomenon, positive antinuclear antibodies (ANA) and abnormal nail fold capillaries. Studies suggest that a substantial number of these cases (but not all) will later develop scleroderma or a related connective tissue disease over the next 5 years.

From a practical viewpoint when a patient is given this label or diagnosis they should ask what features they have so that they understand it better and can follow up with their consultant at their next appointment.”

If pre-scleroderma is something you are concerned about and you have further queries, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

The topic is also being discussed currently on our HealthUnlocked online community page.