Alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP) Serum Test
The Alpha-Fetoprotein Serum Test helps to screen for and monitor the treatment of liver, testicular, and ovarian cancers.
What is the purpose of this test?
Order this Alpha-Fetoprotein Serum Test, which helps to screen for and monitor the treatment of liver, testicular, and ovarian cancers. Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) is a protein the liver makes when its cells grow and divide to make new cells. This protein is typically high in unborn babies but decreases significantly after birth. In healthy non-pregnant individuals, there is very little AFP in their blood. However, AFP is often measured as a tumor marker in non-pregnant individuals since high levels of AFP can be a sign of liver, ovarian, or testicular cancer. Tumor markers are substances cancer cells, or normal cells produce in response to cancer. It's important to monitor AFP levels as they can indicate potential cancer.
An AFP tumor marker test can be utilized for the diagnosis or treatment of liver, ovarian, or testicular cancer, which produces elevated levels of AFP. It is used to:
- When used with other exams and tests, it helps confirm or rule out a cancer diagnosis.
- Predict how cancer may behave over time.
- Monitor cancer treatment. AFP levels often increase if the cancer is growing and decrease when treatment is working.
- Check whether the cancer has returned after treatment.
In certain cases, the outcomes obtained from an AFP tumor marker test can assist healthcare providers in making treatment decisions for certain types of cancer. This test can also be utilized to monitor an individual's health if they have prolonged hepatitis or cirrhosis of the liver. Even though these health issues are not cancerous, they increase the chances of developing liver cancer.
When should I order an Alpha-Fetoprotein Serum Test?
Individuals may order this test if they have experienced liver, testicular, and ovarian cancer symptoms. Common signs or symptoms of these conditions may include:
- Weight loss
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Swollen abdomen
- Loss of appetite
- Lower back pain
- Pain in the abdomen
- A lump in the right side of the abdomen
- A painless lump or swelling on either testicle
- Pain, discomfort, or numbness in the groin, testicle, or ovary
- Menstrual changes (heavy bleeding or irregular bleeding)
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