Hepatitis C: Reasons for treating


Topic: Hepatitis C, June 2000

Dr. Lee:
Since most patients with Hepatitis C do not have any symptoms, they feel fine, why treat patients with Hepatitis C infections?

Dr. Edward Block:
Although most hepatitis C patients feel fine, this is unfortunately a silent disease. And this is also a slowly progressive and chronic disease.

Probably well over 80% of people exposed to hepatitis C will develop chronic liver disease. Generally, complications related to chronic liver disease will show up almost 20 years later. Complications of chronic liver disease might include severe scarring of the liver (known as cirrhosis), which unfortunately will develop in 20% of those infected. And, additionally, 4% of all people exposed will be at risk for developing Hepatocellular Carcinoma (liver cancer).

Chronic liver disease from hepatitis C can progress to end- stage liver disease. Unfortunately, once you have reached end-stage liver disease, the only alternative is liver transplantation. Chronic hepatitis C infection is the leading referral for liver transplantation today in this country.

For these reasons, most doctors believe in initiating treatment that will, hopefully, eradicate the virus and prevent chronic progressive liver disease and related complications.

Dr. Lee:
Such complications as cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

Dr. Edward Block:
Particularly cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer, yes, or end-stage liver disease.

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