PML Prognosis

At present, there is no cure for progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). The patient's prognosis depends on his or her medical history and the cause of the disease. PML is triggered by a virus that destroys the myelin protective coating around nerve fibers and occurs in people whose immune systems are compromised. It is believed that this virus lives in a latent state in about 80 to 90 percent of adults without harming them until the immune system is weakened.

Patients with compromised immune systems include those with AIDS or HIV, persons who take immunosuppressive drugs following an organ transplant, patients on chemotherapy, or patients who take immunosuppressive drugs to treat:

Life Expectancy After Diagnosis

Approximately 10 percent of PML patients live past a year. For most patients, a downward progression of the disease occurs following diagnosis and many patients die within the first six months. Survival generally is between one and nine months.

Life Expectancy for PML Patients after Treatment

Because there is no cure for the disease and the condition is progressive, life expectancy for these patients is within months of diagnosis.

PML inexorably destroys the brain's protective coating around the nerves. This coating is called myelin and its white color is what gives the brain's white matter its appearance. Myelin helps enable the transmission of electric signals between nerves and when it is destroyed, the nerve cells can no longer transmit messages.

This results in the degeneration of those parts of the body governed by the nerves within the damaged myelin. Therefore, this nerve cell destruction produces:

  • Clumsiness (usually the first indication of the presence of PML)
  • Aphasia (inability to speak or understand spoken or written language)
  • Impairment of ability to think and reason
  • Slow distorted speech
  • Headaches
  • Problems with vision and decreased vision in half of the visual field
  • Difficulty feeling or moving on one side of the body
  • Seizures
  • Weakness

When to Go to the Doctor

Patients who suspect they have PML should see their doctors immediately. While there is no cure for the disease, some symptoms may be lessened and the patient's quality of life may be improved. Treatments for PML include:

  • Anti-viral drugs
  • Anticonvulsant medications
  • Chemotherapy drugs in patients who don't have AIDS
  • Certain advanced technologies to assist patients such as voice-activated computer programs or motorized wheelchairs

Compensation Might Be Available

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with PML, you might be eligible to seek financial compensation to ease the stress of the situation. Compensation can cover medical expenses and help ensure comfort and an increased quality of life in the patient. It can also cover financial responsibilities and support for the family during this difficult time. To learn more, please contact our PML lawyers for a free review of your case.

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