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Cystic Fibrosis

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Prevention, Early Detection, and Treatment

Currently, there is no cure for cystic fibrosis, only treatments aimed at minimizing the severity of the symptoms and improving quality of life. Treatment goals usually involve activities to loosen and remove excess mucus from the lungs, prevent lung infections and blockages in the gastrointestinal tract, and to provide adequate nutrition with specialized diets. Some therapies may include exercise regimens and physical therapy as well as drugs such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and bronchodilators.

Prevention of CF is not currently possible except through a combination of screening for carrier status and genetic counseling about a couple's CF risk. Your health care provider can refer you to a genetic counselor or visit the National Society of Genetic Counselors web site. 

Early detection can be accomplished with CF gene mutation testing prenatally, using amniocentesis or chorionic villus collection procedures. Newborn screening programs are starting to add IRT testing and CF gene mutation testing to their menus. Early identification of CF allows parents to get education, referral to a CF center for specialized help, and to start early treatments in their infants to minimize nutritional problems and lung damage.

Some people with CF may undergo a lung transplant, but it is not yet clear if this procedure allows them to live longer or improves their quality of life.

Research is being conducted to develop a cure and to enhance treatments. Great strides have been made over the past ten years, which are allowing some people with CF to live longer with some improvement in quality of life.

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