Who Gets Progressive Disease Without Attacks?

At first, my response was to assume that the person who asked this question was simply asking about the definition of this type of illness. However, he was actually asking about differences in populations and their risk of this type of illness. Here again, ethnic differences become apparent.

In France, Charcot first described the spinal form (primary progressive MS) as an “incomplete form” of MS, occurring in about 10% of patients. Subsequently, this form of illness was rec-ognized as occurring in about 30% of Irish patients and later still as occurring in about 30% of the European Jews in Israel.

Primary progressive illness also appears to be more common in Spain and in patients of Spanish descent, including Cubans, who live in the United States. Several other disorders must be distinguished from primary progressive MS. The most common of these is cervical spondylosis (compression of the spinal cord because of disc disease).

Although people fear spinal cord tumors, only a tiny percentage (about 1%) of patients will be diagnosed as having a spinal cord tumor.