Cystic Fibrosis

What Is Cystic Fibrosis?

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide). A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that:

  • clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections; and
  • obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.

Breakthrough treatments have added years to the lives of people with cystic fibrosis.  Today the median predicted survival age is close to 40.  This is a dramatic improvement from the 1950s, when a child with CF rarely lived long enough to attend elementary school.

Because of tremendous advancements in research and care, many people with CF are living long enough to realize their dreams of attending college, pursuing careers, getting married, and having kids.

While there has been significant progress in treating this disease, there is still no cure and many lives are cut far too short.

According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Patient Registry, in the United States:

  • More than 30,000 people are living with cystic fibrosis (more than 70,000 worldwide).
  • Approximately 1,000 new cases of CF are diagnosed each year.
  • More than 75 percent of people with CF are diagnosed by age 2.
  • More than half of the CF population is age 18 or older