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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Behcet's disease

Other Names for this Disease
  • BD
  • Behcet disease
  • Behcet syndrome
  • Behcet's syndrome
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Your Question

My first episode of Behcet's disease was pretty mild. Is my next episode likely to be the same or progress to a more aggressive event?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is Behcet's disease?

Behcet's disease is a chronic multisystem inflammatory disorder characterized by ulcers affecting the mouth and genitals, various skin lesions, and abnormalities affecting the eyes.[1][2] Although it can happen at any age, symptoms generally begin when individuals are in their 20s or 30s. The disease is common in Japan, Turkey and Israel, and less common in the United States.[2] The exact cause of Behcet's disease is unknown.[1][2][3]  Treatment is symptomatic and supportive.[2]
Last updated: 12/4/2009

If my first episode of Behcet's disease was mild, are subsequent episodes likely to be the same or could they progress to involve more aggressive symptoms?

Behçet's disease affects each person differently, so making determinations regarding subsequent attacks and long-term prognosis is difficult.[3][4][5] Some people have only mild symptoms, such as canker sores or ulcers in the mouth or on the genitals. Others have more severe signs, such as meningitis. More severe symptoms usually appear months or years after a person notices the first signs of Behçet's disease. Symptoms can last for a long time or may come and go in a few weeks. Typically, symptoms appear, disappear, and then reappear. The times when a person is having symptoms are called flares. Different symptoms may occur with each flare.[3]

While your specific course cannot be determined, research has shown that there are some general principles which may play a role in how the disease progresses:[5]

  • Med appear to have a poorer prognosis.
  • The disease usually runs a protracted course, with attacks generally lasting for several weeks and recurring more frequently early in the disease.
  • Mucocutaneous and arthritic involvement usually occur early.


Last updated: 12/4/2009

What is the prognosis for individuals with Behcet's disease?

Most people with Behçet's disease can lead productive lives and control symptoms with proper medicine, rest, and exercise. Doctors can use many medicines to relieve pain, treat symptoms, and prevent complications. When treatment is effective, flares usually become less frequent. Many patients eventually enter a period of remission (a disappearance of symptoms). In some people, treatment does not relieve symptoms, and gradually more serious symptoms such as eye disease may occur. Serious symptoms may appear months or years after the first signs of Behçet's disease.[3]
Last updated: 12/4/2009