Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that affects multiple organs in the body, but mostly the lungs and lymph glands.

Several of the team’s physicians specialize in the diagnosis and management of sarcoidosis and interstitial lung disease. They work collaboratively with other specialists at Boston Medical Center to provide comprehensive treatment for the many manifestations of sarcoidosis, including those to the heart, skin, and central nervous system. Individual management plans are based on the most current research and the experience of the physicians. The program will facilitate evaluation by pulmonary, cardiology, dermatology, ophthalmology, rheumatology, and neurology sub-specialists, all of whom are specially trained in the treatment of sarcoidosis.

Learn more about the Sarcoidosis Center at BMC.

Diagnosis Sarcoidosis 

Because the symptoms may occur in other diseases and there is no single lab test that can diagnose the disease, diagnosis of sarcoidosis may be difficult. Further, determining the presence of granulomas isn’t enough, as they do not differ from granulomas that occur in other diseases. Diagnosis is typically achieved following a careful evaluation by clinicians with experience in diagnosis, and often includes the following tests:

Physical Exam

Your physician will ask you a series of questions and is likely to do a physical exam. The physical exam will including examining any specific areas of concern, especially as they relate to the reason for your visit to the office.

Personal and Family Medical History

Your doctor will likely ask you a series of questions relating to your personal medical history and your family's medical history.

Imaging Tests

Doctors may perform one or more of the follow imaging tests: Bone x-rays, CT scan, MRI, PET scan.

Pulmonary Function Test (PFT)

To understand how well your lungs are working, your physician may order a series of pulmonary function tests. With each breath you take in and breathe out, information is recorded about how much air your lungs take in, how the air moves through your lungs and how well your lungs deliver oxygen to your bloodstream.

Surgical (Excisional) Lymph Node Biopsy

The physician removes an enlarged lymph node through a small cut in the skin. If the lymph node is close to the surface of the skin, a local anesthetic will be used to numb the area being biopsied. If it is located deep under the skin, you may be given drugs to make you drowsy or be put to sleep (using general anesthesia). Surgical lymph node biopsies are generally performed if the lymph node’s size indicates the melanoma has spread, but an FNA was not performed or did not yield conclusive results.

Biopsy

Any suspicious mass of tissue or tumor is subject to a biopsy, or removal of cells from the mass. This is the only technique that can confirm the presence of cancer cells. The doctor will use a general or local anesthetic depending on the location of the mass, and then remove a sample of tissue to send to the lab. The sample is sent to a pathologist, a physician who is an expert at identifying diseased cells in tissue samples. Very often, a few stiches are used to help the area heal, and tenderness is felt for a short period of time.

I think I might have sarcoidosis. What should I do?

Because the signs and symptoms of sarcoidosis can resemble other diseases, the diagnosis of sarcoidosis can be difficult to make. The Sarcoidosis Program at BMC can help determine if you have the disease. Because it is a multidisciplinary Program, it can offer a comprehensive plan of care through a team of specialists who excel at treating the various organ systems that sarcoidosis can affect. Because the disease may disappear and reappear over a lifetime, the Sarcoidosis Program at BMC is committed to long-term, quality care and follow-up.

Is there a cure for sarcoidosis?

There is no cure for sarcoidosis, but the disease may get better on its own over time or with medication.

Is sarcoidosis cancer?

No, sarcoidosis is not a form of cancer, but it can be mistaken for cancer until proper diagnosis is attained.

Is sarcoidosis contagious?

No, it is not contagious. No one can catch the disease from you.

Is sarcoidosis a genetic disease? Will my children get it?

Within some families, the presence of sarcoidosis in a close relative has been shown to increase the chance of getting the disease. Multiple genes have been identified that affect the chances of getting sarcoidosis, and it is the combination of these genes that come together to influence the likelihood of getting sarcoidosis. Some of your genes will be passed to offspring, which may account for the elevated risk within families. Despite this, there is currently no screening test to identify who is at risk, and the likelihood of a family member getting the disease is still so low, that screening for sarcoidosis is not currently recommended.

Do I need to alter my diet in any way?

Not unless the sarcoidosis is causing high blood calcium levels. About 5% of people with sarcoidosis do have high blood calcium levels. For these patients, a reduction in intake of calcium rich foods (such as dairy products, oranges, broccoli, canned salmon, and collard greens), vitamins containing calcium, and vitamin D becomes necessary, as does avoiding excessive sun exposure.

Departments and Programs Who Treat This Condition

department

Pulmonology

The Pulmonology Department comprehensive diagnosis, treatment, education, and rehabilitation services for a full range of pulmonary diseases and allergy conditions.
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Sarcoidosis Program

The Sarcoidosis Program is a multidisciplinary program providing diagnostic and therapeutic services for patients suffering with sarcoidosis: a multisystem disease of unknown orig…