Why Follow-up Tests Are Important after Hep C Treatment
There are a series of blood tests and physical exams the doctor normally does during hepatitis C treatment to check your treatment progress. But what about after hepatitis C treatment? Why are follow-up tests important?
What follow-up tests are done?
My hepatologist explained that follow-up tests are important to seeing you to the cure and recovery and valuable to your liver health. Here is why:
- RNA blood tests can be done to check your viral load count to see if you have responded to treatment.
- 12 weeks after treatment is completed, another RNA blood test is usually done. If the test result is non-detected, this means the hep C virus is not detectable in your blood. This means you have achieved SVR12, (sustained virologic response) and considered cured.
- Some doctors may choose to check your blood again at 24 weeks post-treatment.
- Depending on your liver condition, if you have fibrosis or cirrhosis (severe scarring), your doctor may order regular blood work and ultrasounds to be done in routine follow-ups.
Are you cured or not cured of hepatitis c?
Why is follow-up important?
If you have fibrosis or cirrhosis (severe scarring), you have a higher risk for developing cysts or tumors and liver cancer. Follow-up tests are important to monitor your liver damage. If tumors/cysts or cancer is diagnosed early, it can be treated.
If you have cirrhosis and taking medication for symptoms, blood work and ultrasounds (every 6 months to yearly) are important to monitor your condition. Your doctor may want to do a fibroscan, or MRI, which can monitor the amount of liver damage that may be present compared to earlier tests.
If liver transplant is required, follow-up tests are required to monitor your MELD score and your condition. If you receive a liver transplant, you must take anti-rejection medication so that your body does not reject your transplanted liver. Blood work, physical exams, and other tests are required to monitor your condition.
Talk to your doctor and healthcare team about what tests are needed during your recovery and follow-up care. Be proactive. Good liver health practices should not end when treatment ends. Be good to your liver so your liver can take care of you!
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