Re: is positive ANA 1:80 nucleolar nothing to worry about?
Tammy, hi. I'm just a patient, so please read in that light, OK? I think there are multiple things an ANA result might mean.
1. In people who *don't* have lupus or any close cousin, ANA can elevate simply due to a passing virus, to a family tendency, etc. For this reason, without accompanying symptoms, I think drs. don't worry about a slight elevation. So you could ask your GP whether an ANA of 1:80 is considered to be only slightly elevated.
2. In people who *do* have lupus or some close cousin---
a. ANA can rise & fall as flares appear then recede. So timing of tests is important, and it may take multiple tests to "catch it" higher than 1:80. But if a patient doesn't have meaningful recurrent symptoms, there'd be no reason to perform this test again & again.
b. ANA is a general test. Some drs. order it alone, without additional tests for *more spcific autoantibodies*, such as anti-ds-DNA, anti-SM, anti-Ro, anti-La, anti-RNP, etc. (There are as many as 16 seen in lupus!) But there's a small "subset" of anti-Ro lupus patients whose ANA remains negative. However, such ANA-negative lupus is rare, perhaps only 5% of all people with systemic lupus---plus these people have ongoing symptoms that should make a dr. "see through" the fact that ANA has stayed negative.
c. ANA stays negative in the mildest group of people with lupus = those with discoid lupus (DLE). DLE is not considered systemic. It's characterized by skin lesions that scar &/or depigment, posiibly with some fatigue & joint pain.
Given the above, ANA must be viewed in the context of SYMPTOMS. So... do you have persistent symptoms? And do you have anything "objective", meaning visible & impossible to ignore, such as recurrent rashes? I ask that because dermatologists can biopsy rashes and test them with immunofluorescent stains to determine if they're lupus-specific rashes.
I hope this gives you ideas for questions you could ask your dr., to get further clarification of his earlier remarks. Good luck. Warm wishes, Vee
Last edited by VeeJ; 08-24-2010 at 03:11 AM.