Hi I am sorry I don't have the answer but wanted to check in with you. Are you seeing a GI/Hepatologist? A doctor who specializes in the liver?
Have you heard there are new medicines to help cure the Hepatitis C?
I can get the forum address for you and also search for other information
Thanks very very much Dee. Yes seeing a specialist next week. Should be starting treatment shortly. Thanks again for your response.
Welcome to the forums! A blood test for liver cancer would mean a test for alpha-fetoprotein, which is a marker that usually starts to rapidly elevate when one has liver cancer. It's not a really conclusive test but it tells them whether they need to look more carefully or not. If you've had HCV for 10 years the odds of having HCC are pretty low. It usually doesn't become a significant risk until the HCV has caused cirrhosis and even then not usually until the cirrhosis has been around for quite a while. You will probably test fine for the HCC but you might want to join the Hepatitis C community forum for more support and information about the HCV and treatments for it.
Have you had a biopsy or an alternative test to determine the stage of your liver disease yet? It's pretty important to check periodically on how much damage the virus has done to your liver. This will be rated as a number 0-4 for the degree of fibrosis (scarring) with 0 being no damage and 4 being cirrhosis. The goal is always to stop the damage as early as possible, but especially before it gets to 4. Once you have cirrhosis it is much harder to treat because the virus is more likely to be resistant and because your liver may not be able to tolerate the drugs. Assuming one can eradicate the virus, if the liver damage is 3 or less, then the liver will be very likely to regenerate and heal itself eventually. If the damage is already at 4 then real regeneration isn't really a possibility anymore. Be sure to see the best specialist you can find - a hepatologist is always preferred, but a gastroenterologist is definitely better than a general practitioner. Good luck!
Thank you so much for the commeMs and advice, I really appreciate it.
Cirrhosis usually takes 20-40 to develop from chronic infection with hep C. If you don't have cirrhosis you have no increased risk for HCC.
HCC or primary liver cancer has no signs or symptoms until its final stage. It also doesn't effect liver related blood levels except for the AFP test which is a test not usually performed on patients. Unfortunately when symptoms appear at that point HCC is usually fatal.That is why like many cancers it must be monitored for. The same way a mammogram is used to detect breast cancer. People usually have no indication that they have cancer until unfortunately it is too late. That is way cancer is so deadly.
Only patients with hepatitis C that have cirrhosis (stage 4 liver disease) are at a higher risk of developing liver cancer than others. Only if you have cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis B do you have to even think about HCC. HCC develops out of the cirrhotic liver especially when the cirrhosis has been caused by the hepatitis C virus.
All patients with cirrhosis should be screened for HCC every 6 months with a AFP blood test and ultrasound. If a lesion is seen or the AFP level is consistently rising over time then a CT or MRI scan is performed with contrast to search for HCC. Only CT or MRI can diagnose HCC. AFP is never used alone to diagnose HCC because 40% of people with HCC have no rise in AFP levels.
Only a hepatologist working at a liver transplant center with other specialists who are experienced in diagnosing HCC reliably can properly diagnose and treat HCC.
If HCC is not discovered early is a very deadly cancer. This is why proper surveillance is so very important. If the person with HCC has cirrhosis and portal hypertension the only cure is a liver transplant.
HCC is 2-3 times more common in men than women.
I hope you don't have cirrhosis or HCC. I had HCC for 30 months and was lucky to survive it by having a liver transplant.
Thank you so much for all your input. It has been very very helpful.
I was actually getting a mammogram, ultra sound, xray, and biopsy for breast cancer and liver cancer. But the kids only went back to school today so have held off. But will get things happening now. Doctor has advised I get all but only been for liver test so far. Thanks again.
I hope all your tests come out good. I'm sure your AFP will be fine, but I wanted to reiterate that you really need to be seen and followed by a real hepatologist. Everyone who has HCV should be under the care of a hepatologist in order to ensure proper surveillance of the liver condition and to be given appropriate treatment to eliminate the virus, at an appropriate time. Your list of tests sounds like it would come from a more generalist sort of doctor, which is great for most things but not so great for HCV. If you haven't already done so, please ask for a referral to a good hepatologist for that portion of your care. They really do have much more knowledge and many more tools in their toolbox for handling the HCV. Good luck!