AFP Tumour Marker Test

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Also known as: AFP; alpha-fetoprotein
Related tests: CEA; hCG; Tumour markers

At a Glance

Why Get Tested?

To screen for and monitor therapy for certain cancers of the liver and testes

When to Get Tested?

If your doctor suspects that you have certain cancers of the liver or testes, if you are under treatment for them, or have previously been treated for one of these cancers. It may also be used if chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis of the liver is suspected.

Sample Required?

A blood sample taken from a vein in the arm

The Test Sample

What is being tested?

AFP is a protein that is normally produced by the developing fetus. However, it can also be produced by certain tumours and disease of the liver. Raised levels of AFP are found in the majority of patients with a type of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma and also in some patients with cancer of the testis.

How is the sample collected for testing?

A blood sample is taken by needle from a vein in the arm.

NOTE: If undergoing medical tests makes you or someone you care for anxious, embarrassed, or even difficult to manage, you might consider reading one or more of the following articles: Coping with Test Pain, Discomfort, and Anxiety, Tips on Blood Testing, Tips to Help Children through Their Medical Tests, and Tips to Help the Elderly through Their Medical Tests.

Another article, Follow That Sample, provides a glimpse at the collection and processing of a blood sample and throat culture.

The Test

Common Questions

Ask a Laboratory Scientist

Article Sources

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NOTE: This article is based on research that utilizes the sources cited here as well as the collective experience of the Lab Tests Online Editorial Review Board. This article is periodically reviewed by the Editorial Board and may be updated as a result of the review. Any new sources cited will be added to the list and distinguished from the original sources used.