WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – It’s Cystic Fibrosis awareness month. A genetic disease that is one of the deadliest in the country, but how much do you really know about it?
Marilynn Prince-Fiocco MD now serves as a Pulmonary Physician at new Hanover Regional Medical Center. Before that she worked in several adult Cystic Fibrosis care clinics.
“Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease, it’s actually the second most common severe genetic disease especially in Caucasians,” said Prince-Fiocco who routinely sees patients with CF but has to refer them to seek treatment at UNC Chapel Hill, Duke or Wake Forest clinics.
Better known as CF, it’s a disease discovered at birth through a sweat or salt test as well as other examinations. Hundreds of different gene mutations can lead to a diagnosis according to Prince-Fiocco. The most common being defect F Delta 508. Each case varies, but there are a host of usual symptoms.
“The Cystic Fibrosis patient chronically has the kind of phlegm that brings most people disease to the doctor,” Prince-Fiocco said.
Phlegm sits in the lungs, airways and sometimes multiple organs for patients.
They take special medication to help digest food to absorb nutrients, aid in clearing mucus from their lungs and fight off bacteria.
“The failure to be able to clear that phlegm means that the infections that are bacterial especially are fostered and the infections gradually further damage the lungs.”
Awareness for the chronic condition is spearheaded by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. They report that more then 30,000 people are patients with CF and even more are potential carriers of the gene defects. Funding for research in the past decades has significantly helped reduce the affects of the disease.
“Telling somebody that your baby has CF and use to be that was almost a death sentence in the first few years but now the median lifespan is 37 and many patients live into their 50s.”
Images in the above story video were provided by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.