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Tuberous sclerosis

Tuberous sclerosis (TOO-buh-ruhss skluh-ROH-suhss) (TSC) is a rare disease caused by a gene mutation. The gene mutation can be passed down in a family or it can develop on its own. TSC causes tumors to grow in the brain and other organs. The tumors are not cancer. But tumors can cause problems depending on their location. Some symptoms include:

  • Seizures
  • Problems with thinking and learning
  • Behavioral problems (including aggression, acting out, or self-harming behavior)
  • Skin problems (such as white patches anywhere on the body or raised, discolored areas on the forehead)
  • Kidney disease

Although TSC may be present at birth, full symptoms may take some time to develop. As a result, TSC is often overlooked or misdiagnosed for years. TSC is mild in some people. But for others, TSC can be very debilitating and even life-threatening.

TSC has no cure. But treatments can help many of the symptoms and help people with more severe TSC cope with its debilitating effects.

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Content last updated: September 22, 2009.

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