Hepatitis C Prognosis
The hepatitis C virus can affect different people in different ways. Therefore, the doctor bases a person's hepatitis C prognosis on information collected over many years about hundreds or even thousands of people with hepatitis C. Several factors affect a person's hepatitis C prognosis, including age, ethnicity, general health, and response to treatment. Other things -- like the type of virus the person has and the amount of liver damage that has occurred -- also impact a person's hepatitis C prognosis.
People facing hepatitis C are naturally concerned about what the future holds. Understanding hepatitis C and what to expect can help patients and their loved ones plan hepatitis C treatment, think about lifestyle changes, and make decisions about their quality of life and finances. Many people with hepatitis C want to know their hepatitis C prognosis. They may ask their doctor or search for hepatitis C statistics on their own.
It is important to know that the hepatitis C virus, or HCV, can affect you much differently than it does someone else. For example, some people have very bad cirrhosis (scarring) and late symptoms of hepatitis C after many years of having the disease, while others have very few scars. Of the people who have the virus for 20 years, approximately 20 percent (1 out of 5 patients) will have severe scarring of their liver. Once cirrhosis develops, the person is at risk for many life-threatening complications of hepatitis C liver disease.
A prognosis gives an idea of the likely course and outcome of a disease -- that is, the chance that a patient will recover. For hepatitis C, many factors affect a person's prognosis.
Some of the most important factors are:
- The amount of virus in your body (see Hepatitis C Viral Load)
- Its genotype (see Hepatitis C Genotypes)
- How long you have had hepatitis C
- How much liver damage has already been done
- Any other medical conditions you may have.
Other factors that may also affect a person's hepatitis C prognosis include the person's:
- General health
- Response to treatment.
When doctors discuss a person's hepatitis C prognosis, they carefully consider all factors that could affect that person's disease and treatment, and then try to predict what might happen. The doctor bases the hepatitis C prognosis on information researchers have collected over many years about hundreds or even thousands of people with hepatitis C. When possible, the doctor uses statistics based on groups of people whose situations are most similar to that of an individual patient.
The doctor may speak of a favorable hepatitis C prognosis if the hepatitis C virus is likely to respond well to treatment. The hepatitis C prognosis may be unfavorable if the HCV is likely to be difficult to control. It is important to keep in mind, however, that a prognosis is only a prediction. The doctor cannot be absolutely certain about the outcome for a particular patient.