Black Patients With Cutaneous Sarcoidosis May Have More Systemic and CV Disease

Christine Kilgore

April 16, 2021

Black patients diagnosed by dermatologists with cutaneous sarcoidosis were significantly more likely to have unrecognized systemic organ involvement than were non-Black patients, according to a retrospective chart review of patients seen at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital, both in Boston.

Black patients were also significantly more likely to have two or more organs involved and have higher rates of cardiac involvement, the latter of which is associated with worse prognosis. "Our data suggest there may be substantial variations in organ involvement between racial groups of patients presenting with cutaneous sarcoidosis," said medical student Kylee Kus, a medical student at Oakland University, Auburn Hills, Mich., who presented the findings with Bina Kassamali, a medical student at Harvard University, Boston, at the annual Skin of Color Society scientific symposium.

Sotonye Imadojemu, MD, MBE; Avery LeChance, MD, MPH; and Ruth Anne Vleugels, MD, MPH, MBA; of Brigham and Women's Hospital, are cosenior authors of the abstract.

The researchers identified 111 patients who were diagnosed with cutaneous sarcoidosis over a 20-year period (January 2000–December 2019), 50 of whom presented without established extracutaneous disease. They examined the charts of these 50 patients for whether subsequent work-up revealed systemic disease.

Of the 50 patients, 9 were Black. Seven of these nine patients (77.8%), were found to have systemic involvement, compared with 14 of 41 (46.3%) non-Black patients – a 31.5% higher probability (P < .05). One-third of the nine Black patients were found to have disease in one organ, and 44.4% in two or more organs. In non-Black patients, these rates were 12.2% and 34.1%, respectively.

Cardiovascular involvement was not found in any of the non-Black patients who had extracutaneous disease, but was found in 29% of the Black patients with extracutaneous disease, a statistically significant difference.

Black patients are known to be at higher risk for sarcoidosis than non-Black patients, and because "there is an association between cardiac sarcoid involvement and poor prognosis largely due to manifestations such as heart block, arrhythmias, and heart failure ... the study helps demonstrate how this organ involvement can disproportionately affect the Black population," Ms. Kassamali said in an interview after the meeting.

A separate, recently published analysis of data from the same patient population examined the work-ups that patients received after a dermatologist's diagnosis of sarcoidosis and found that patients with no previous systemic work-up were subsequently assessed for cardiac involvement in only 58.3% of cases. Assessment for pulmonary and ocular disease was completed more than 90% of the time.

"Crucial testing for cardiac involvement fell short," Imadojemu, of the department of dermatology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and coinvestigators wrote in the research letter.

"Because the cutaneous manifestations of sarcoidosis often present at disease onset, dermatologists may be the first physicians to diagnose a patient with sarcoidosis," they wrote. "As such, dermatologists are often responsible for initiating the appropriate evaluation of patients with sarcoidosis."

Pulmonary involvement occurs in nearly all cases of sarcoidosis, while ocular and cardiac disease develop in approximately 25% and 10% of patients, respectively. Cardiac sarcoidosis is usually asymptomatic and accounts for 13%-25% of sarcoidosis-related deaths in the United States, they wrote.

An electrocardiogram is the appropriate initial screening tool and "is warranted in all patients with sarcoidosis," they advised.

This article originally appeared on, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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