Benign MS. Features that lead to continued activity in the long term

Some people tolerate MS quite well for a long time,

This study shows that benign MS, is not inactive MS and many people continue to worsen over time. 

This means that is you are treating early and aggressively, you will be possibly over-treating some people. However, it says you perhaps want a safe induction treatment, when you can treat early and then wait to see if disease returns. Maybe you can nip it in the bud ( Halt something at an early stage)

Fabis-Pedrini MJ, James I, Seewann A, Yau WY, van de Bovenkamp AA, Sanders FRK, Qiu W, Burton J, Mastaglia FL, Carroll WM, Kermode AG. Natural history of benign multiple sclerosis: Clinical correlates in a Western Australian cohort. J Neurol Sci. 2018 May 15;388:12-18.


Benign multiple sclerosis (BMS) is a controversial term that has been used for MS patients with minimal disability decades after disease onset. Herein, we evaluated disease status after 20 years in a Western Australian cohort defined as BMS based on an Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score ≤ 3.0 at 10 years from onset.


MS patients with an EDSS score ≤ 3.0 at 10 years from onset and minimum of 20 years follow up were included in the study. The 20-year EDSS score was considered the primary outcome. 


Among 120 patients with a benign course at 10 years, 78 (65%) remained benign at the 20-year follow up, but patients with an EDSS ≥ 2.5 were more likely to go on to develop more severe disability in the next decade. When considering factors associated with an increase in EDSS score ≤ 1 from 10 to 20 years, indicating limited progression, apart from the EDSS score at 10 years, poly-symptomatic presentation (p = 0.004) and cerebellar/brainstem mono-symptomatic presentation (p = 0.016) were independently associated with more rapid progression compared with other mono-symptomatic presentations. 


In this geographically isolated MS cohort of predominantly Anglo-Celtic origin clinical progression in the benign MS group was similar to that in other published series from Western countries. These results are in keeping with the view that patients labeled as benign MS are part of a heterogeneous continuum of disease progression and do not possess unique clinical characteristics.