Purpose: Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) is a rare, progressive, frequently lethal cystic lung disease that almost exclusively affects women. Prognostic information in LAM has been limited by small numbers and heterogeneous study methodology. Early retrospective cohorts cited 5- and 10-year mortality of 40 and 80 %, respectively. More recently, mortality at 10 years has been estimated to be approximately 10-20 % from the onset of symptoms and 30 % at 10 years from the time of lung biopsy but varies widely in individual patients. Given the heterogeneous disease course, it would be useful to establish which clinical characteristics are associated with survival to develop prediction models for disease outcome.
Methods: The LAM Foundation maintains a population-based registry of 1,149 registered self-identified LAM patients. Of these, 590 have completed a "General Information/Clinical History Questionnaire" with limited demographic and clinical data, 410 of whom were identified as U.S. residents and provided date of birth. Vital status was obtained on all 410 participants through December 31, 2007 by linking patient identifiers and the National Death Index. Survival time was calculated as the time since first lung-related symptom or physician diagnosis until censoring (still alive, received lung transplant, or died). Cox proportional hazard analysis evaluated the association of demographic and clinical features with survival.
Results: Among the 410 subjects, there were 50 deaths and 55 lung transplantations during a median of 10.4 years of observation time. The estimated median transplant-free survival time for LAM patients in the United States is 29 years from symptom onset and 23 years from diagnosis. The estimated 10-year survival transplant-free was 86 %. Age at disease onset, smoking status, race, presence of tuberous sclerosis, occurrence of pneumothorax, and pregnancy did not demonstrate an association with survival or transplant. Greater age at presentation and presence of angiomyolipoma were associated with less risk of mortality. Treatment with hormonal therapy was associated with an increased risk of death/transplant (hazard ratio (HR) 2.93; 95 % confidence interval (CI), 1.54-5.58; p = 0.001), particularly progesterone therapy (HR 2.17; 95 % CI 1.26-3.75, p = 0.005), and may represent confounding by indication. Patients who required oxygen therapy had a worse outcome (HR 4.53; 95 % CI 2.76-7.42; p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Our population-based study showed that the median survival in patients with LAM from the onset of symptoms or diagnosis is much longer than previously described. This has important implications for life choices and treatment decisions regarding medication use and lung transplantation for patients with LAM.