Epidemiology of systemic sclerosis: incidence, prevalence, survival, risk factors, malignancy, and environmental triggers

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2012 Mar;24(2):165-70. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0b013e32834ff2e8.


Purpose of review: To identify the recent data regarding prevalence, incidence, survival, and risk factors for systemic sclerosis (SSc) and to compare these data to previously published findings.

Recent findings: SSc disease occurrence data are now available for Argentina, Taiwan, and India and continue to show wide variation across geographic regions. The survival rate is negatively impacted by older age of onset, male sex, scleroderma renal crisis, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, cancer, and antitopoisomerase and anti-U1 antibodies. It appears that silica exposure confers an increased risk for developing scleroderma, but this exposure accounts for a very small proportion of male patients. Smoking is not associated with increased SSc susceptibility. Malignancies are reported in scleroderma at an increased rate, but the magnitude of this risk and the type of cancer vary among reports.

Summary: Prevalence and incidence of SSc appears to be greater in populations of European ancestry and lower in Asian groups. Exposure to silica dust appears to be an environmental trigger, but this only accounts for a small proportion of male cases. Evidence for increased risk of neoplasia is suggestive, but the magnitude of the risk and the types of malignancies vary among reports.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / epidemiology*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / mortality
  • Sex Factors
  • Survival Rate