The long-term outlook for people with Madelung disease depends on the size and location of the fatty tumors (lipomas) present in each person. In most cases, the condition is considered benign. However, the masses usually grow over time and tend to have a high rate of recurrence after removal. In some people, the lipomas may grow so large that they compress surrounding tissues such as nerves, blood vessels, and muscles. This can reduce the size of the trachea (windpipe) which can lead to breathing problems and cause obstructive sleep apnea.
In extremely rare cases, lipomas can become malignant (cancerous). Head and neck cancers have also been reported in some affected people; however, the association between Madelung disease and these cancers remains uncertain.
Although we are unaware of any studies regarding the life expectancy of people with Madelung disease, the condition is reportedly associated with a 10% risk of sudden death by asphyxiation (lack of oxygen).
Last updated: 11/20/2014
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