Center for ALS Research and Therapy

Incidence of ALS

According to the ALS Association, approximately 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. It is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans may have the disease at any given time, approximately 300 in San Diego County alone.

The Mystery of ALS

  • ALS is often referred to as a syndrome because the disease becomes apparent in various patterns. ALS occurs rarely and spontaneously. Currently, there is no cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
  • The incidence of ALS is five times higher than Huntington's disease and about equal to multiple sclerosis.
  • Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70, although the disease can occur at a younger age. Estimates suggest that ALS is responsible for as many as five of every 100,000 deaths in people aged 20 or older. ALS is most common among persons over age 60.
  • ALS occurs throughout the world with no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries.
  • Familial causes comprise only about 5% of ALS cases and the cause of the remaining sporadic cases is unknown.
  • Many ALS patients can live longer and more productive lives because of current research into the cause, prevention and cure for the disease. Improvements in medical management, including nutrition and breathing, regularly increase patient survival.
  • Today fifty percent of affected patients live at least three or more years after diagnosis; 20 percent live five years or more; and up to 10 percent will survive more than ten years