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Sarcoidosis
Treatment

Sarcoidosis is treated at the UCSF Interstitial Lung Disease Program. World-renowned lung specialists, chest radiologists and pathologists work together as a team to design the most effective treatment plan for your individual condition.

The cause of sarcoidosis is unknown at this time. Therefore, there is no specific treatment to cure the condition. Fortunately, in many cases, sarcoidosis does not require treatment because the nodules gradually resolve on their own and leave behind few, if any, signs of inflammation or other complications.

However, treatment is necessary in some cases. Medications are available that effectively suppress symptoms and help reduce lung inflammation, the impact of nodules and prevent the development of lung fibrosis. These include the following medications.

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids, usually prednisone, are particularly effective in reducing inflammation, and are typically the first drugs used in the treatment of sarcoidosis. In patients with mild symptoms, such as skin lesions, eye inflammation, or cough, topical steroid therapy with creams, eye-drops or inhalers may be sufficient to control the disease. When necessary, oral steroids are generally prescribed for six to twelve months. In most cases, a relatively high dose is prescribed at first, followed by a slow taper to the lowest effective dose.

Symptoms, especially cough and shortness of breath, generally improve with steroid therapy. Relapses may occur after treatment with steroids has ended, but typically respond to repeated steroid treatment. Patients who improve and remain stable for more than year after the end of treatment have a low rate of relapse.

Researchers continue to examine the role of steroids in the treatment of sarcoidosis, with some addressing the question of what effect they may have on the long-term course of the disease. However, in general, steroid therapy remains the leading treatment for sarcoidosis.

Other Medications

Alternative medications are used in patients who cannot tolerate steroids, do not respond to steroids or wish to lower the dose of steroids. These include:

  • Methotrexate — This medication reduces inflammation and suppresses the immune system.
  • Cyclophosphamide and Azathioprine — These medications are most commonly used in conjunction with steroids in patients whose condition is worsening despite treatment.
  • Antimalarial Medications (Hydroxychloroquine) — These medications are used to treat sarcoidosis of the skin and lungs.
  • Colchicine — This medication is most communly used to treat gout and is sometimes prescribed to treat sarcoidosis-related arthritis.

A number of other medications are currently being investigated for the treatment of sarcoidosis.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Pulmonology

Interstitial Lung Disease Program
400 Parnassus Ave., Fifth Floor
San Francisco, CA 94143
Phone: (415) 353-2577
Fax: (415) 353-2568
Appointment information

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