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Clin Liver Dis. 1997 Nov;1(3):587-602.

The natural history of chronic hepatitis C virus infection.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Washington, DC 20422, USA.


In conclusion, the natural history of chronic HCV infection has not yet been fully defined. Current data suggest that the process runs an indolent course during the first two decades after initial infection, accounting for modest morbidity and mortality. Serious sequelae are more likely to emerge as the disease process enters the third and fourth decades after infection. These sequelae will presumably be concentrated among those whose liver biopsies display features of cirrhosis, but seem less likely to effect those with liver biopsy evidence of chronic hepatitis alone unless their disease advances to cirrhosis. The frequency of progression from chronic hepatitis to cirrhosis as the disease process enters the third decade remains to be determined. Associated chronic alcoholism appears to be an important additive factor, but other factors that might promote disease progression need to be defined. It seems probable that end-stage liver disease will result in only a proportion of infected individuals. If so, the challenge is to learn how to determine for each individual during the course of their chronic illness what outcome can be expected.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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