Cirrhosis occurs when damaged liver cells are replaced by scar tissue, which reduces the liver’s ability to function normally. People diagnosed with cirrhosis have an increased risk of liver cancer and require more frequent monitoring for this type of cancer.
Cirrhosis caused by chronic viral hepatitis is very common in the United States. For those living with chronic hepatitis C infections, cirrhosis is always present before liver cancer develops. For those living with chronic hepatitis B infections, however, liver cancer can develop without cirrhosis, which is why regular liver cancer screening is so important.
There are several other possible causes of cirrhosis. In the United States, cirrhosis is usually related to excessive alcohol use or a common liver disease called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Certain types of inherited metabolic diseases or autoimmune diseases can also cause liver damage that leads to cirrhosis.