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Infectious Diseases

How long til pending death

06/29/2004

Question:

if you have had chronic hepatitis B already for about 10 yrs..how long til it turns to the cirrohisis, or cancer of the liver? an est. of what you have seen. thanks in advance

Answer:

The majority of people infected with hepatitis B are able to clear the virus and recover completely. A minority of people will develop chronic hepatitis B. Chronic hepatitis B can persist for many years with little injury to the liver, or it can cause liver injury and progress to cirrohsis (liver scarring and eventual liver failure) and/or hepatocellular cancer. Since not everyone with chronic hepatitis B will have liver injury, and since liver injury predicts cirrhosis and cancer, assessing liver injury is important.

I suggest that you seek medical care from a physician specializing in Infectious Diseases or Hepatology. This physician can do tests, such as determining the amount of hepatitis B virus in your blood or performing a liver biopsy, to determine how active your infection is and how much liver damage has occurred. Not only will this tell you your risk of cirrhosis, but it will also guide possible therapy. Antiviral drugs to treat hepatitis B are available.

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Response by:

Amy Beth Kressel, MD
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati