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Jul 14

A Huge Anti-Climax!

Well, today certainly didn’t go anything like I expected to. I had expected to start  my Hepatitis C treatment today but sitting back at home on my bed right now it looks like I won’t be starting until at least next February, a full 7 months away!

The basic reason for this is that on my ultra-sound scan something showed up on it. The Doctor said that there was no scarring, fibrosis, cirrohsis or anything like that which of course is good news and that this thing that ‘showed up’ is what is most likely to be a birth mark on my liver. The problem is that the scan now has to be checked by some other specialist as part of normal protocol before I am allowed to go ahead with the hep c treatment.

Apparently this will take 2-3 weeks to happen and so the Doctor was starting to give off vibes that she didn’t think I should start the hep c treatment so close to me starting a new job. I am a teacher and it will be a very busy and stressful time for me when I start my new job in September and she seemed to think I would be better waiting until I was settled into the new job.

A secondary reason for her perhaps wanting to put me off a bit more is because after Christmas the new drugs that have just been trialled and approved for public use are likely to be able for use here in the UK. Why this was never really mentioned previoulsy to me I am not sure. Maybe this was because before she was not sure what my genotype was and perhaps if it had been a good gentoype such as 2 or 3 then she would have been more encouraging me to go ahead with it, however it is now official I have the worst genotype to get rid of which is 1b.

The good news however is that the new treatments really do seem to improve the chances of achieveing a sustained virological response (SVR) for people with genotype 1, assuming of course that the patient is able to tolerate the treatment side effects and so on. The first quote is regarding the new drug Boceprivir and the second quote is regarding the other new drug Telaprevir which are to be used in conjunction with the conventional combination therapy of interferon and ribavirin:

“In all three treatment arms, PR consisted of peginterferon α-2b and ribavirin.
Among nonblacks, sustained virologic response (SVR) rates were significantly higher in the boceprevir groups (67%–68%) than in the control group (40%). Blacks had lower SVR rates in all three groups, but B+PR still outperformed PR in this population; SVR rates were 42% in the RGT group, 53% in the fixed-duration group, and 23% among controls. Overall, 44% of patients in the RGT group had undetectable HCV RNA from week 8 to week 24 and therefore received shorter-duration therapy (28 weeks total).”

“SVR rates were 69% and 75% in the 8- and 12-week telaprevir groups, compared with 44% in the control group.5 Approximately 58% of patients who received telaprevir achieved eRVR and were eligible for shorter treatment (24 weeks total).”

hepatitiscnewdrugs.blogspot.com: Source

So for myself I take away two key points from that:

a) The chances of me attaining SVR increase from around 45% without the new drugs to near as damn it 70% with either of the new drugs!

b) With either of the new drugs there is around a 50% chance of being able to have a shorter duration of hepatitis c treatment aswell which is awesome news.

So, I guess rather than rushing into my treatment now it does make sense for me to wait until next year when I am on top of my new job and the new drugs are available to be used. I was looking forward to getting started on the treatment and was a bit annoyed after I found out I had had a wasted journey to the hospital today, but already I am feeling better about delaying it somewhat.

I still have an appointment booked for two weeks time in which I can have my first injection if I change my mind. Like I said it took me a while to calm down after realising I wasn’t going to be starting treatment today so it took me a while to think it through properly which is why I left the option open. I will still keep the appointment however as they should tell me for sure what that liver birthmark thing is all about but apparently it is nothing to worry about.

So to summarise then: My current ALT is 135 with a viral load of 1 million (up from 600,000). I have no scar tissue, fibrosis, cirrohsis or anything like that and the doc said that I can afford to wait and reading between the lines with my genotype being 1b I think she wants me to wait so I can benefit from the new drugs coming out soon.

I guess I’ll take it easy on the blog updates from now on as there may not be much else to report at least until the next appointment. In the meantime I will be ‘watchfully waiting’ which is the lovely little term the doctor likes to use for trying to live a healthy life by not doing anything to damaging to your liver whilst you wait for the hep c treatment to start…how nice! Take care guys 🙂

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