Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) may not be words that roll off the tip of your tongue, but it is important to spread awareness of this chronic liver disease. These four important facts are a good place to start to learn about who it affects and how to stay one step ahead of PBC.
1) 90% of people with PBC are women
- Although the cause is unknown, scientists speculate that PBC can be inherited or caused by environmental factors.
- It affects approximately one in 1,000 women over the age of 40.
- Women between 35-60 years old are the most at risk – however, there have been cases of people being diagnosed between the ages of 22 and 90.
2) Most don’t have symptoms, particularly in the early stages of the disease
- It can take over ten years for symptoms to present themselves.
- When symptoms do occur, the most common are fatigue and pruritus – also known as itchiness. However, these symptoms are not always linked to the severity of disease.
- Another symptom is jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) and can occur when PBC is quite severe.
3) Due to the absence of symptoms in early stages, PBC is often detected incidentally through routine liver blood tests
- A routine liver blood test can measure the alkaline phosphate (ALP) level, which is an enzyme found in the blood that, if abnormally high, can be a sign of liver damage. Testing ALP may help with early detection and monitoring of progression.
- If PBC is suspected, an additional test for anti-mitochodrial antibodies (AMAs), may be conducted. The presence of AMAs can be a reliable indicator of the disease.
- If blood tests to check for autoimmune disease and liver function are inconclusive, doctors may perform a liver biopsy.
4) Although there is no cure for PBC, medications may slow down progression
If you are concerned about your liver health or specifically PBC, then be sure to ask for a routine blood test to check your liver enzyme levels the next time you are at your doctor’s office. It is important to be your own advocate for early detection and management!
Already have PBC? Then check out MyPBCCoach.com. It has a helpful quiz that will develop a customizable conversation guide you can use at your next check-in.***
This content is sponsored by Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Inc.