Selena Gomez’s disease: What is lupus?

(CNN)Lupus is a chronic illness with symptoms that can come and go, and flare ups that can be painful and prolonged. Just this week, pop star Selena Gomez announced she’s taking time off to deal with issues stemming from her lupus. The 24-year-old singer also canceled tour dates in 2013 to deal with her disease.

“I’ve discovered that anxiety, panic attacks and depression can be side effects of lupus, which can present their own challenges,” Gomez said in a statement to CNN. “I want to be proactive and focus on maintaining my health and happiness and have decided that the best way forward is to take some time off.”


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“I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again,” Gomez told Billboard last year.
Gomez’s concern about having a stroke is legitimate.
“There can be an increased risk of … strokes, blood clotting in the legs or even heart attacks,” said Dr. Joan Merrill, medical director of the Lupus Foundation of America.

Is chemotherapy the normal treatment?

Treatment depends on the intensity of the disease. Milder cases can be treated with immunosuppressants or anti-inflammatories, such as aspirin or steroids. However, more severe cases can be treated with chemotherapy drugs, the most common being Cyclophosphamide and Methotrexate.


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Chemotherapy “can stop the more aggressive types of lupus very quickly, and people can do very well on it,” Merrill said. “The dosages are usually less than what cancer patients take.”
Lupus can come and go — flaring up and then heading into remission.
“It’s very unpredictable,” Merrill said, adding that it’s manageable with proper treatment.

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