Pulmonary Sarcoidosis | Symptoms and Treatment | MedStar Health

Sarcoidosis most often occurs in people between the ages of 20 and 40, with women being diagnosed more frequently than men.

A condition called sarcoidosis, most commonly found in the lungs, can be mistaken for cancer, tuberculosis, or other infections, as its symptoms are similar. Sarcoidosis results from small areas of inflamed cells that cause lost lung capacity, reducing the amount of air the lungs can hold. Sarcoidosis most often occurs in people between the ages of 20 and 40, with women diagnosed more frequently than men. It is estimated that up to four in 10,000 people in the U.S. have sarcoidosis.


Like lung cancer, pulmonary sarcoidosis can be completely symptomless, or may include a dry cough, shortness of breath, or mild chest pain; sometimes, these are accompanied by fatigue, weakness, and weight loss. As these symptoms mimic those of lung cancer, an accurate diagnosis is critical. Doctors use tests such as X-rays, blood tests, and pulmonary function tests to diagnose sarcoidosis and usually confirm the diagnosis through a biopsy.


A type of autoimmune disorder, sarcoidosis symptoms often resolve themselves gradually on their own without treatment. It is uncertain what triggers sarcoidosis. Severely affected patients may require treatment with corticosteroids for one or two years, although some of the most severely affected may require life-long therapy. About 20 percent of those with lung involvement will develop residual lung damage, but death from sarcoidosis is rare. Drug treatments are used to relieve symptoms and reduce the inflammation.

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