Nowadays most of my blog posts are inspired by emails I get from folk about their Hepatitis C experiences; having Hep C and the process of getting rid of it…because I have been cured for more than two years now my Hep C experiences are all about helping others access treatment and helping them through the process of the cure. One of the biggest issues with Hepatitis C is the development of liver fibrosis/cirrhosis and ultimately liver cancer.
One of the things that keeps coming up is how well the liver can heal itself once the virus is removed from the equation.
One of the big problems from having Hepatitis C is our liver getting scarred by the Hep C virus. This scar tissue leads to fibrosis of the liver and eventually to cirrhosis. Fibrosis, the scar tissue, is also where liver cancer, HCC, begins.
So having any level of fibrosis leads to an increased risk of HCC, the more scar tissue in your liver the higher the level of cirrhosis.
Increased fibrosis levels also affect the liver’s functioning. The more scar tissue the less functioning liver tissue is available. So not only does fibrosis increase the chance of liver cancer it also impair the livers functions.
Fibrosis is rated by a score that begins at F0 (no fibrosis) and rises to F4 (cirrhosis). Cirrhosis has long been regarded as the “end” … the point of no return. Liver functions are ruined and chance of developing liver cancer high.
But this perception is changing because the very good news is that once the Hep C virus is removed many people are reporting that the liver is healing better than was expected. People with cirrhosis (F4) are finding that their liver fibrosis levels return to F2 or F1. The chance of liver cancer reduces by more than 70% and the liver functions return to normal. Good health.
The two emails below are ones that I received just yesterday.
This email from a Hep C patient in the UK.
I hope you are well.
Just thought I would share some further good news that you might want to share with others.
11 months after the end of treatment I am still undetected which is great.
Of a further note my fibro scan reading has dropped from the original reading of 20.9 to 14.3 so despite being told it may not drop mine has dropped significantly.
This email from a patient in New Zealand
Here is my Hep C fibrosis story.
The background story is that I was infected with Hep C in the 1980’s after the birth of my first child, from a blood transfusion.
I found out that I was infected and had a biopsy soon after – early 1993, I had genotype 3 and the early stages of fibrosis.
In 1997, had another biopsy and cirrhosis was diagnosed. Liver Function Test showed that my enzymes were all high.
1998, with one other person, was first in Dunedin to have alpha Interferon and Ribavirin for12 months, was sick every 2nd day. The treatment really did a lot of damage to my thyroid but my liver function normalised.
Unfortunately the treatment did not clear the virus. As we now all know genotype 3 is the hard one!
These in 2003, with my LFTs rising again, I did 6 months treatment with peg./riba.
At the end of the treatment I had my gall bladder out and another biopsy. The liver cirrhosis was now a bit worse.
Unfortunately the virus came back, I felt it come back! It was one afternoon about a month after end of treatment. But again, my liver function normalised after treatment and this lasted about 8 years.
Then in 2014, the liver function test showed that my liver enzymes were starting to rise again. My fibroscan showed liver stiffness increasing so I got moved from 12 month to 6 monthly fibroscans.
The fibroscan in Sept 2015 was 40kPa up from about 18 previously and I knew that I needed to treat, urgently, like yesterday!!!
My doctor told me that the next step was to get on the liver transplant list, but until I had been on it, and further deteriorated, I couldn’t get treatment.
I had been infected with Hepatitis C for 18 years, I had fibrosis F4, decompensating but still not sick enough to get treatment!
To cut a long story short I eventually got the right advice from you, James and Giten early in October 2015. A few weeks later I was on treatment using 24 weeks of generic Sofosbuvir + Daclatasvir .
It took me 18 weeks of treatment to reach the “Undetected” stage. The viral load was low but it took 18 weeks to reach Undetected!
Now the big news… at the end of treatment I had another fibroscan and was told I was down from 40kPa to 22kPa which was a big improvement.
Six months later I was down to 9.5 kPa and that was the biggest surprise, since then 8.5 and now 7.5. As I say, they had to look hard to find any fibrous patches but there are still a couple.
I hope this helps folk understand just how much the liver can heal once the virus is removed.
So this shows that once the Hepatitis C virus is removed the liver will begin to heal and remove scar tissue and regain functions. This removal of scar tissue and reversal of cirrhosis has profound implications for people with Hepatitis C regaining normal health and significantly reducing the risk of developing liver cancer.
The important thing is to get rid of the virus and to do that ASAP.
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