Expected duration of Cirrhosis

By  , Expert Content
Sep 03, 2012

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Cirrhosis is a very serious liver disease in which the healthy liver cells are destroyed and replaced by scar tissue. The liver is an important organ of the digestive system. It performs many complex and vital functions that are vital for life. In cirrhosis, the liver does not function optimally leading to complications, such as jaundice, increased tendency to bleed, etc.

Expected duration of cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is a progressive disease and there is no cure for it, however, the progress of the disease can be slowed down with treatment and adoption of  measures of healthy living.
Some measures that can slow the progression of cirrhosis include:

  • treatment of the underlying liver disease. In cases with  chronic hepatitis B infection, treatment with interferon (standard and pegylated) and antiviral drugs (such as lamivudine, adefovir, entecavir, telbivudine and tenofovir) can help to stop multiplication of the virus in the liver and slow down or prevent further liver damage and progression of cirrhosis. In people with autoimmune hepatitis, steroid (such as prednisolone) or an immunosuppressant (such as azathioprine) can help to slow down or prevent further liver damage and progression of cirrhosis
  • reducing alcohol intake. Excess alcohol intake is a major cause of cirrhosis. If you have been diagnosed with cirrhosis, stop alcohol intake immediately. Research has shown that alcohol consumption speeds up the rate of liver damage regardless of the cause of cirrhosis.
  • Stop hepatotoxic drugs. If you have been diagnosed with cirrhosis, inform your doctor about all your medications. Taking drugs that are harmful for the liver speeds up the rate of liver damage regardless of the cause of cirrhosis.
  • Removal of environmental toxin. Avoiding further exposure to environmental toxins (such as pesticides and heavy metals) can slow the progression of cirrhosis.

Liver damage in cirrhosis is permanent and irreversible and therefore, cannot be cured with medications. Appropriate treatment, however, can improve your symptoms, decrease or prevent complications and improve the quality of life. Expected duration of disease and survival is dependent on many factors including the stage of liver disease. In general, overall median survival in cirrhosis is approximately 10 years.

Doctors classify cirrhosis of the liver in different stages based on symptoms and lab findings. One such system used to determine the prognosis and expected survival and progress of disease is Child-Pugh classification system. According to this classification system, a person in class C has poor chances of survival. There is only 50% chance that a person with class C disease will live after 1 year. Patients with Class A or B have better survival rates. The 5 year survival rate in these classes is about 70%- 80% implying that there is 70 to 80% chance that people with Class A or B disease will be alive 5 years after treatment.


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