Primary sclerosing cholangitis, or PSC, is a chronic progressive disease that damages the bile ducts. And, if you didn’t know, bile is a liquid that assists the body in the digestion of fats. When they get inflamed, as in the case of PSC, bile is stockpiled by the liver, which then begins to deteriorate. Patients can develop cirrhosis or fibrosis of the liver, causing scarring. Other dangers of having PSC include developing bile duct cancer.
The most common symptoms are extreme itchiness (called pruritus) and fatigue. Jaundice is also a common symptom for people with PSC. All can be intermittent, making an early diagnosis more difficult.
Like hepatitis C, most people with PSC don’t experience symptoms, so when symptoms do appear, the disease has already gained a foothold in the patient’s body. For some, it takes more than 10 years before their liver fails, and yet, others can go on for significantly longer periods of time before needing invasive medical intervention, such as a liver transplant.
If you would like to learn more about PSC from the patient’s perspective, please watch the video linked below.