Attacking multiple sclerosis with comprehensive program
Making a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) can be tricky. No blood test is available, and it requires a careful medical history, physical examination, laboratory evaluation and imaging.
“Unlike other diseases, MS varies widely in terms of symptoms, aggressiveness, response to treatment and disease burden. This makes treating the disease particularly challenging and underscores the importance of personalized care,” says Timothy West, MD, Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Program at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
Those who are diagnosed with the disease face the prospect of developing significant disability over time. The goal of treatment is to delay the progression of symptoms for as long as possible.
There are currently eight FDA-approved medications for the treatment of MS, with three more expected to be approved in 2012. Each has its own risks and benefits, requiring therapy tailored to each individual.
“There are no cookie-cutter responses,” says Dr. West. “One patient will do well on a drug, and another patient will continue to worsen. If the disease is more aggressive, we must be more aggressive in our treatment.”
Patients with MS can experience many physical, emotional and psychosocial issues over the course of their disease. At the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, Dr. West is building a comprehensive program that includes individualized clinical care, research into novel treatments for the disease, and support for physical and emotional symptoms.
“MS is a complex disease that must be attacked on all fronts. We try to treat the whole patient. Although there is no cure for MS, we can still do a lot of good,” he says.
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