Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) Tumor Marker

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Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) Tumor Marker measures the level of AFP in the blood. It helps diagnose and moniter therapy for certain cancers of the liver, testicles, or ovaries. Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) is a protein produced primarily by the liver in a fetus. Liver damage and certain cancers can increase AFP concentrations significantly.

What does the test result mean?

When the AFP is used as a monitoring tool, decreasing AFP levels indicate a response to treatment. Otherwise, it means some of the tumor tissue may still be present.

If AFP levels begin to increase, it is likely that the cancer is recurring. However, since an increased AFP may be also due to hepatitis or cirrhosis, AFP levels can sometimes be misleading.

When the AFP concentrations of people with chronic liver disease greatly elevated, their risk of developing liver cancer increases.

When total AFP and AFP-L3% (a test to measure one of the AFP variants) are significantly elevated, then the patient have an increased risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma in the next year or two.

However, both AFP and AFP-L3% concentrations can elevate and fluctuate in people with chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis. So, a sharp increase of AFP is more important than the actual numerical value of the test result.

 

Keywords: alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) tumor marker; AFP Tumor Marker

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