Cirrhosis - Treatment Overview
It's important to work with your doctor to watch your condition, especially because symptoms may not start until a problem has
become severe. In addition to regular checkups and lab tests,
you will also need periodic screening for enlarged veins (varices) and liver cancer
- The American College of Gastroenterology
recommends testing for varices with endoscopy for all people who have
been diagnosed with cirrhosis. If your initial test does not find any varices, you can be
tested again in 2 to 3 years. If you already have large varices, you may need
more frequent testing and treatment with beta-blocker medicines to try to
prevent future bleeding episodes.1
- Testing to check for liver cancer usually takes place every 6
months. You will likely have a test for alpha-fetoprotein
and a liver ultrasound or a magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI).
Receiving a liver from an organ donor (liver transplant) is the only
treatment that will restore normal liver function and cure
portal hypertension. A liver transplant is usually
considered only when liver damage is severe and threatening your life.
condition becomes severe, you may want to talk to your doctor about whether you will be a good candidate for a
liver transplant if your disease becomes advanced.
Liver transplant surgery is
very expensive. You may have to wait a long time for a transplant, because so
few organs are available. Even if a transplant occurs, it may not work. With these things in mind, doctors must decide who will benefit
most from receiving a liver. Good candidates include those who have not abused alcohol or illegal drugs
for the previous 6 months and those who have a good support system of family and friends.
Talk to your doctor about what steps you
can take now to improve your overall health so that you can increase your
chances of being considered a good candidate.
If your cirrhosis gets worse, you
may want to think about
palliative care. This is a kind of care for
people who have illnesses that do not go away and often get worse over time. Palliative care focuses on improving your quality of life—not just in your
body but also in your mind and spirit.
For more information, see