Purpose of review
Systemic sclerosis (scleroderma, SSc) is a rare multisystem autoimmune disease characterized by autoantibodies, vasculopathy, and fibrosis of the skin and internal organs. This review aims to provide an overview and summary of the recent epidemiological studies in systemic sclerosis.
Global trends of scleroderma demonstrate greater prevalence of SSc in European, North, and South American patients compared with East Asian patients. However, the greatest prevalence (47 in 100 000), was found among the indigenous peoples in Canada. Phenotypical differences exist depending on the age of presentation with greater internal organ involvement and disease acceleration present in older patients. Sex differences include greater severity of disease expression, relative prevalence of diffuse cutaneous SSc, and organ involvement in males versus females. New studies conflict with previous data reporting greater proportion of pulmonary arterial hypertension in females. Furthermore, the effect of low median household income is demonstrated as a factor increasing risk of death in SSc patients.
Understanding the epidemiological factors in SSc enables patient care through patient classification, prognostication, and monitoring. Future research may emphasize enrichment of SSc patients in randomized trials who are more likely to progress or be treatment responsive, focused screening, and personalized patient care through the creation and validation of new SSc criteria and subsets.