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cirrosis of the liver due to hepatitis b
Sep 30, 2007

I was diagnosed with hepatitis b core 6 months ago. Two months ago I had a Liver biopsy taken off me. On 27/09/2007 (yesterday) i went for my results and was told that I have developed cirrosis of the liver. I pressume i had the hep b for more than a decade now, although I wasn't aware of it for all these years. I have a long history of schistosomiasis,I was first diagnosed with schistosomiasis at the age of 8 in my country Zimbabwe and then for the second time here in the UK in 2006 and i had syphillis when i was a tenager. I haven't had much alcohol for the past year. before then i was drinking excessively. I did have a few occasions, about five times, were I had a few drinks in the past year. I have been advised to stop drinking by my doctor. I will be starting my treatment next week on 04/10/2007, the doctor prescribed the Lumivudine, 100mg, once a day, for the next three years. I did not have enough questions for the doctor by the time he diliverd the news to me about the cirrosis however, i went on the internet to read a few staff about hep b and cirrosis of the liver. To my surprise i noted that the overall life expactancy for a chronic ill patient with hepatitis b and cirrosis of the liver, is five years. Does this mean I will be dying within the next five years? Please help me understand your cooperation in this matter will be appriciated.

Response from Dr. McGovern

You have multiple reasons for possible liver disease including hepatitis B, alcohol and schistosomiasis. However, I agree with your physician that it is quite important to stop all alcohol. Initiating treatment for hepatitis B is another very important step. You will need monitoring of your liver function tests and hepatitis B serologies. You should also have monitoring of your liver by imaging - Ultrasound if available - every six months also with a blood test called alfa feto protein. If you have only cirrhosis, you can live for many more years, particularly if you don't drink and take your hepatitis B medication faithfully. If your cirrhosis becomes "decompensated" (eg you develop fluid in your belly, confusion, bleeding) then life expectancy does shorten. So it is important to take care of your liver so it stays "compensated". You will want to discuss with your physician the drugs for HBV - if available - including entecavir.

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