Surrey-area residents are sought for Liver Beware Project testing at a Guildford pharmacy this summer.
The Canadian Liver Foundation (liver.ca) will offer Fibroscan screening to 350 people who pre-register for sessions that start July 9 and run until Sept. 11, every Saturday and Sunday.
Done by donation of $20, testing can determine if someone has fatty liver and liver scarring, or cirrhosis.
Fatty liver disease is on the rise everywhere, according to the Canadian Liver Foundation (CLF).
Dr. Eric M. Yoshida, gastroenterologist and medical advisory chair with CLF, says it’s important for people to get tested with Fibroscan, which involves an ultrasound wave aimed at the liver, to determine the degree of fibrosis, or scarring.
“Fatty liver disease that is not alcohol-related is part of metabolic syndrome that includes diabetes, obesity, etc.,” Yoshida explained. “Fatty liver disease patients are at increased risk of not only cirrhosis and liver cancer but also heart disease and have an overall increased risk of cancer. Fatty liver disease is avoidable and can be reversible especially if detected early. A healthy lifestyle including healthy eating, regular physical activity (i.e. exercise) and avoiding alcohol can go a long way.”
In Surrey, Fibroscan screening will be done this summer at the London Drugs at Guildford Town Centre. To pre-book an appointment in a private patient room, people aged 35 to 70 years can call 604-707-6430 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. After testing is done, a copy of the result will be given to the patient to bring to their GP for follow-up.
The Fibroscan test procedure takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete, and it is not painful, according to Yoshida. “You will be asked to lie down. Some gel will be placed on your skin, between your ribs on your right side. A small probe will then be gently moved across your skin to analyze whether there is any fibrosis in your liver.”
Yoshida says fatty liver disease is increasing not only in North America but throughout the world, as poor diets are more common, calories tend to be inexpensive and easy to obtain and the population tends to be more sedentary.
“From the local Vancouver General Hospital perspective, we are seeing more and more patients referred to us for a liver transplant with fatty liver disease as the cause of end-stage liver disease, and we are also transplanting more and more every year,” Yoshida noted. “Like global climate change, we have to do something about this problem and that includes public health education efforts.”