British Liver Trust
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Cirrhosis. Life expectancy?

I have been diagnosed with severe cirrhosis and my fibroscan rusult was the highest the Doctor had ever seen. I'm seeing her in March for more tests.

I'm wondering how long can my liver go on in the state it's in? I'm working full time and have no health issues. In fact I'm a walking miracle and VERY lucky. My concerns are how long I will live. If I have a new liver what is the life expectancy? Any advice is much appreciated.

13 Replies

It is a difficult question to answer, I assume you have completely stopped drinking alcohol and smoking if you ever did. Are you eating, sleeping and exercising sensibly all of which should help you general health.

But the question of prognosis should be directed at your GP and consultant and they may not be able to give an adequate answer either. Make a list of questions you are concerned about and take it along to the docs at your next appointment, write down his or her replies.

It is perfectly natural to be concerned about this but you can help by doing the above. A liver transplant may prolong your life expectancy and the procedure and treatment has improved in leaps and bounds over the years.


I agree with Blaenguy's comments and would add that you need to be seen by someone other than your GP and before March. Like you, I was diagnosed with cirrhosis, was generally well and functioning and then was diagnosed with liver cancer. From diagnosis to being on the transplant list was 3 months then another 6 before I had a transplant just love three years ago. Life expectancy post transplant is generally good.

Get back to your GP and ask for a referral to gastroenterologist or better still hepatologist.



I agree with other comments posted; re the fibroscan score; this detects the stiffness of the liver I believe; I have heard of people having almost top end of the scale score, yet still having compensated cirrhosis; you need to find out a lot more information from your consultant ; i'm surprised you have not been told more already. Do you have acites or major symptons like that?


I understand from your previous posts elsewhere that your cirrhosis was caused by alcohol. To answer how long can your liver survive, well not long if you are still drinking.

If you have stopped drinking then the liver damage should stabilise. But its a lot of work to get yourself healthy again. You may have no symptoms on the outside, but if you have been diagnosed with a high fibroscan and you have a history of heavy drinking then you are damaged on the inside. In order to have a reasonable life expectancy now you need to give your liver all the TLC it has missed out on, so as the others have said you need to eat, exercise and rest healthily.

You dont want to be thinking about transplant at this stage, instead focus your mind and your energies on working with the liver you have, rather than thinking about getting a liver from someone who has died. If there is any risk of you drinking again in the future, no doctor is going to put you on the transplant list anyway.

How long can people live with a new liver? Like life itself, its as variable as your life now - it depends on how healthy they are otherwise, how healthy the liver was, how their body accepts the new liver, how their body deals with all the anti-rejection meds, I could go on and on.


I can only agree with what has already been said. exercise regularly - nothing too rigorous is required, but frequent and regular - things like swimming, walking etc. Cut out all alcohol. Eat a sensible diet. Lose weight gradually if you are over weight. What was your fibroscan result? Pressurise your GP to get your hospital appointment ASAP. Write a list of all the questions you want asking - take a good friend with you as two heads are better than one, and take notes of what the replies are to your questions. Good luck - let us know how you get on.

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I no longer drink and have never smoked. I've been sober 2 and a half years. my fibroscan score was 75. My blood tests are great. I'm very confused as I was originally told if I stay off the booze I'll live a long normal life. But, after the fibroscan my doctor mentioned she'd be in contact with Kings hospital and I needed an endoscopy as I've suffered with ruptured varacies. My endoscopy was all clear.


It could be the damage to your liver was done when you were drinking is a good thing you stopped when you did. Make sure there aren't other lifestyle habits that are also contributing to your liver damage. For example a poor diet (high in sugars/fats skipping meals], lack of exercise and/or medications that are compromising your worth looking into. Talk to your liver specialists.


When my hubby first saw a gastroenterologist he told us that he had patients with cirrhosis who were walking about with few issues some 20 years post diagnosis.

The thing with cirrhosis is that it can be compensated i.e. the liver can be damaged but still functioning and carrying out some/most/many of its main functions (some people go years with cirrhosis without knowing they have it - as my hubby did!) or It can become decompensated - when the damage to the liver becomes so severe that it starts to struggle with its functions and the effects/symptoms of cirrhosis can start to show.

The British Liver Trust website has a good page on cirrhosis symptoms which can be many and varied from fairly mild & easily missed or linked to other conditions to severe and life threatening.

If your endoscopy was clear of signs of varices that's good news as it means you arn't currently suffering one of the major symptoms of late stage/chronic cirrhosis being portal hypertension and varices (a bleed from which can be fatal). Other serious complications are hepatic encephalopathy, ascites and oedema (fluid build ups) and indeed liver failure. Cirrhotic tissue is considered in medical circles to be pre-cancerous too so sufferers of cirrhosis should be undergoing regular blood tests to check for AFP (a protein which is an indicator of cancers) and 6 monthly ultrasound scans.

It is a good sign that you are generally feeling healthy but it is also sensible that as you do have cirrhosis you get the referral to the transplant centre, even if they decide at that assessment/listing for transplant isn't yet appropriate they will begin to closely monitor you and perhaps take over and/or direct your care. Plus, they should offer guidance on your health and how to care for your liver, your diet etc. Hubby and I were attending our TP centre for a year before he was assessed for transplant but they took over his care & monitored him closely until they felt it was time that he was assessed and then listed.

As others have said, continue to look after yourself, March seems a long time to wait to be seen again and perhaps your referral to TP centre needs to be brought forward - even just to 'touch base' with them and see where you go from here.

All the best, Katie :)


Thanks for your help!


You do not say what your fibroscan result was. Liver failure usually occurs when 80-90% of the liver is destroyed. You would be very unwell at this point. You do not say what has lead to your cirrhosis such as Hepatitis B, C alcohol, drugs, NAFLD, or NASH for example. Hopefully, you will be able to maintain your present health, I am sure your doctor has advised you what lifestyle habits will help to reduce further damage to your liver, such as stop drinking, look at what medications are less harmful to liver, and a diet that is liver friendly. The Hepatitis Trust website has loads of helpful advice regarding lifestyle changes for a healthier liver. Good luck, take good care of yourself.


Hiya, ajb. First of all, when you say severe cirrhosis of the liver, do you mean whats known as "end stage" cirrhosis or child pugh C as some consultants call it? I assume it is end stage like myself and i know exactly where you're coming from with regards to life expectancy. I had to go on the internet for the figures as my consultant seemed to not want to answer the question directly at least. In America (best place i could find for cirrhosis of the liver facts and figures) if you quit drinking immediately then the average is 3 to 5 years.....if you carry on drinking its upto 18 months life expectancy. Both figures assume you don't get a transplant and both figures are based on time from the date of diagnosis by the hospital rather than from GP. In this country its probably similar but i couldn't say for definate.


I forgot to mention, i don't know if you have stopped drinking, but, if so, you have to be completely sober and alcohol-free for 6 months in this country before you can be even considered for a liver transplant...and thats definately in this country i was told by a consultant.

I,m not sure what the other criteria you have to meet to improve your chances of getting on the list but the alcohol free for 6 months rule makes sense as a lot of post liver transplant patients would probably start drinking again if they thought they where "starting from scratch" again with a fresh liver.


I had a transplant 2 years ago and it is working fine. I am 69 and I have spoken to some one who was 85 and had a transplant 17 years ago. I have also heard of a gentleman who had a new liver over 25 years although he was in the USA. I hope this gives you some hope and I wish you the very best of good fortune.


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