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Goodpasture's syndrome is a rare autoimmune disease where antibodies damage the lungs and kidneys. The symptoms usually progress very slowly at first and usually present just as a persistent dry cough or breathlessness. However, at some point the symptoms progress much quicker and, in many cases, result in the death of the patient before diagnosis. Once a virtual death sentence, modern use of steroids, plasmapheresis and cyclophosphamide results in most patients going on to live a normal lifespan as long as the damage to the organs is caught before it becomes serious.
Because it's early symptoms are prosaic, it is very difficult to diagnose. One of its key distinguising features is the combination of both lung and kidney involvement with no other systemic problems. However, even when it is suspected, a lengthy differential diagnosis is required to rule out other conditions. It is often only diagnosed once it has become acute. A kidney biopsy can be definitive.