How Long Should You Follow Up with Your Physician After Hepatitis C Treatment?
Hepatitis C patients often ask how long they should follow up with their liver specialists after treatment is completed. There is a wide variety of treatments for hepatitis C, with treatment length ranging from 8 to 24 weeks. The standard treatment length for hepatitis C is generally 12 weeks.
Blood tests after treatment
Patients will have blood work at intervals as early as 2 to 4 weeks after treatment, depending on their physician, their liver health, and their overall medical condition. A blood test to check for viral load is typically done at 4 weeks post-treatment. The gold standard for post-treatment blood work is to check for viral load count at 12 weeks after treatment is completed. If the patient shows "non-detected", they achieve an SVR12 (sustained virologic response), meaning the hepatitis C virus shows non-detected 12 weeks after treatment is completed - They are cured.
Most liver specialists will follow-up with their patients up to 24 weeks after treatment. Depending on the patient’s liver condition with liver damage, the liver specialist may need to see them every 6 months to once a year. If the patient has no liver damage, their physician may decide to not follow up after 12 weeks post-treatment. The need for follow-up visits and tests can begin as early as 6 months to once a year after treatment depending on their liver damage and medical condition. Follow-up tests are necessary in order to monitor the condition of the liver, treat any complications from liver damage, and treat/manage associated conditions.
You may also consider asking your doctor if you should be screened for liver cancer, or other health conditions that can be linked to hepatitis C or liver disease. Fortunately, hepatitis C treatment can dramatically reduce a patient's risk of liver cancer.
Tests after treatment
A variety of tests may be done after treatment, including:
- Physical exams
- Blood work
- Ultrasound (sonograms)
- Fibroscan or liver biopsy
Other tests may be necessary depending on the patient’s condition. Talk with your liver specialists about which post-hepatitis C treatment follow-up appointments and tests are right for you.
Do you try to follow a liver-friendly diet?