Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM)

Reviewed by National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

Lymphangioleiomyomatosis, or LAM, is a rare lung disease. It mostly affects middle-aged women. In LAM, abnormal, muscle-like cells begin to grow out of control in certain organs or tissues, especially the lungs, lymph nodes, and kidneys.

Over time, these LAM cells spread throughout the lungs and destroy normal lung tissue. As a result, air can't move freely in and out of the lungs. In some cases, the lungs can't supply the body's other organs with enough oxygen.

LAM has no cure. The disease tends to worsen over time. How quickly the disease worsens varies from woman to woman. LAM may lead to death from respiratory failure. Lung transplant is a treatment option for women whose lungs have been damaged by LAM.

However, doctors have made many advances in researching the condition in recent years. Not long ago, doctors thought women who had LAM wouldn't live more than 10 years following diagnosis. They now know that some women may survive for more than 20 years after diagnosis. Medical professionals are now able to diagnose the condition earlier. Support services also are now available to help improve the quality of life for women who have LAM.

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