Liver Disease in Asians
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Why choose the UCLA Health Asian Liver Program?
The UCLA Health Asian Liver Program is the only program of its kind in Southern California, home to the fastest-growing population of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Hepatologists (liver specialists), surgeons, and diagnostic and interventional radiologists offer the full range of diagnostic, medical and surgical care for Asian people with liver disease.
Highlights of our program include:
Targeted care: Asian people have high rates of diseases that affect their liver, gallbladder or bile ducts. Liver diseases are among the leading causes of death among Asians. Also, Asians have the highest rates of liver cancer of any ethnic group in the United States. Language-conscious and culturally sensitive specialists tailor care for this population.
Research emphasis: UCLA Health specialists are national leaders in research for liver disease in Asians. We continually find, develop and study new treatment options, bringing patients access to new therapies through clinical trials and studies.
Advanced treatment options: We offer the full spectrum of advanced liver disease treatments. UCLA Health’s liver transplantation program is renowned nationwide. We are leaders in developing new surgical techniques to make the most effective use of donor organs. Our patients consistently experience excellent long-term outcomes.
Types of liver disease we treat
We offer targeted care for all types of liver diseases in Asian people, including:
Hepatitis B: A liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). Symptoms may include yellowing in the white parts of the eyes, dark urine and stomach pain. Up to one in 10 Asian Americans have an HBV infection or have chronic hepatitis B.
Hepatitis C: A liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The virus causes liver inflammation and can lead to severe liver damage. Most people don’t have symptoms, although hepatitis C may cause nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue or yellowed skin and eyes (jaundice).
Liver cancer: Cancer that starts in the liver cells (hepatocellular carcinoma). Symptoms may include abdominal pain, vomiting, weight loss or yellowed skin. Asians have the highest rates of liver cancer of any ethnic group in the United States.
Cirrhosis: Scarring in the liver that forms in late stages of liver disease. As the scarring worsens, the liver may begin to stop functioning. In early stages, people may experience fatigue or weight loss. Later symptoms may include jaundice, gastrointestinal bleeding or swelling of the abdomen. Hepatitis infections and chronic alcohol misuse are the most common causes of cirrhosis.
Liver disease tests and treatments we offer
Our team provides a range of tests and treatment options to diagnose and care for patients with liver conditions. We offer:
Hepatitis screenings: We use blood tests to diagnose hepatitis. For example, we screen for hepatitis B using a blood test that looks for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBgAg).
Medication: Antiviral medicines may be effective treatment for patients with hepatitis B or C. These medicines help to fight the viruses and slow the progression of liver damage. Newer medicines may help people with hepatitis C clear the virus from their body.
Chemoembolization: Patients with liver cancer may benefit from chemoembolization. An interventional radiologist injects chemotherapy drugs directly into a tumor. Then they send a substance called an embolic agent inside the blood vessels that supply the tumor with blood. An embolic agent is a synthetic material that stops blood flow to the tumor.
Radiofrequency ablation: This is another treatment for liver cancer. An interventional radiologist guides a needle with an electrode into the tumor. Then they send high-frequency energy through the electrode. The energy heats and destroys cancer cells.
Surgery: Surgeons may operate to remove damaged tissue or tumors in the liver. Or they may perform a procedure called portacaval shunting. In portacaval shunting, the surgeon creates a new connection between the portal vein, which supplies blood to the liver, and the inferior vena cava, which drains blood from the lower body. This directs blood away from the liver to treat portal hypertension, increased pressure in the portal vein. Redirecting blood flow away from the liver reduces the risk of the portal vein rupturing and causing serious bleeding.
Liver transplant: In cases of severe, irreversible liver damage, patients may require a liver transplant. Surgeons remove the damaged liver and replace it with a donor organ. UCLA Health has one of the most leading-edge liver transplantation programs in the nation.
Our doctors are active researchers, academic leaders and clinical experts. We treat all types of liver diseases in people of Asian descent with a culturally sensitive approach. Our team creates personalized, effective treatment plans using state-of-the-art tools and techniques.