Liver Disease: A Formidable But Conquerable Enemy
Education and Advocacy Liver disease is coming of age in Canada bringing with it increases in cirrhosis, liver cancer, liver failure and the need for transplants – all costly outcomes for individuals, governments and the health care system.
In recent months, liver disease patients of all ages have been in the media appealing to the public for living liver donors. A stark reminder of what can happen when we cannot, or do not, intervene before severe liver damage develops. While liver disease often has no symptoms, it is detectable and can often take years to wreak irreversible damage.
We therefore have time to act and, thanks to research, we have many of the interventions we need to prevent unnecessary suffering and death from many forms of liver disease.
The benefits of research
Hepatitis B and C demonstrate how a concerted focus on research can yield rewards. Hepatitis B can be prevented by vaccine and with effective screening and medications, the disease can be monitored and managed to ensure the best possible prognosis.
Hepatitis C is now curable in a large proportion of patients with the most common type of the disease and a vaccine may only be a few years away from existence. What is amazing is that this progress was achieved in just over two decades of research. Imagine if we could achieve the same with children’s liver diseases, autoimmune liver diseases and liver cancer?
"The most prevalent liver diseases in Canada – hepatitis B and C and fatty liver disease – are the very ones that we can prevent, manage or cure."
Organ shortages mean we cannot replace every failing liver – nor should we have to. The most prevalent liver diseases in Canada – hepatitis B and C and fatty liver disease – are the very ones that we can prevent, manage or cure. A commitment to research has led to these remarkable discoveries.
The same commitment to apply the knowledge and tools afforded by these discoveries will save lives. The time to act is now.