Liver disease affects 1 of every 15 people in the U.S and causes more than 46,000 deaths annually. While deaths from heart disease, stroke and cancer have all declined within the past decade, mortality from liver disease has been on the increase. The range of abnormalities that can affect the liver is broad, from genetic defects, to infectious insults, to toxic injury, cirrhosis and liver cancer. Children as well as adults fall victim to liver-related health problems.
Hepatitis and Liver Cancer
Hepatitis and liver cancer, in particular, affect an enormous number of people throughout the Bay Area and worldwide. One in 10 Asian/Pacific Islanders in San Francisco is estimated to have the hepatitis B virus. Globally, more than 2 billion people are thought to be infected with some form of viral hepatitis, with the majority living in Asia. If left untreated, hepatitis can progress to cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver failure and liver cancer. In the next decade, a growing number of hepatitis patients are expected to progress to cirrhosis, causing a spike in the demand for tertiary care treatment.
However, there is new hope for liver patients, whether they have asymptomatic viral hepatitis, cirrhosis or liver cancer. For the first time, researchers have developed a number of new drugs that directly target the hepatitis C virus, allowing more effective treatment for patients. Even patients with cirrhosis can be treated, decreasing their likelihood of requiring a transplant. Those with end-stage liver failure who need a new liver now have improved protocols for organ transplantation. Perhaps most exciting, our evolving knowledge of genetics is helping us choose particular therapeutics tailored to a patient's DNA and his or her specific subtype of disease, increasing the likelihood that treatment will be successful.
Liver Disease at UCSF
UCSF is at the threshold of an exciting new era in providing better care and discovering advanced treatments for liver disease, building on its established strengths in research, clinical care, hepatology and transplant medicine.
Our team of outstanding specialists treat the entire range of liver disorders, including some of the most complex cases in the western U.S. We are especially proud of our world-renowned liver transplant program. UCSF has a long and distinguished history of training tomorrow's leaders in the field. The program has produced generations of outstanding physicians and research scientists, many choosing to remain at UCSF to pursue productive and rewarding careers.
At UCSF, our research focuses on the causes of liver-related diseases including Hepatitis B and C, Hepatocellular Carcinoma (Primary Liver Cancer), and Fatty Liver Disease. Millions of Americans suffer from various stages of liver disease, many of which will progress to liver failure and require a transplant. Our research has the potential to improve countless lives by finding treatments and cures for these diseases.