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AFP laboratory test

Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) is a protein that is mostly produced by the liver and certain tumours in non-pregnant persons. AFP is present in very small amounts in the body of a healthy adult. In case of liver, testicular and ovarian cancers, its levels can rise significantly.

What is the purpose of the test?

The purpose of the test is to examine the possibility of liver, testicular and ovarian tumours and to monitor treatment. In cases that predispose to liver cancer (such as cirrhosis or alcoholism), regular monitoring (semi-annually or annually) may help in the early detection of liver cancer.

The AFP test alone is not suitable for screening, a negative result does not mean that there is no tumour in the affected organ, and positive results are not specific enough to make a diagnosis.

In which cases is it recommended to perform the test?

The AFP test alone is not suitable for screening, so it is recommended that the test be performed if the patient is suspected of having liver, testicular or ovarian cancer.


If treatment has already begun, the test will help you assess the effectiveness of the therapy. The test may also be indicated if cirrhosis or hepatitis is suspected.

What sample is needed for the test?

A blood sample taken from the vein is required for the test.

What can the result indicate?

Elevated levels of alpha-fetoprotein may indicate cirrhosis, hepatitis, liver cancer, testicular and ovarian cancer, and other cancers such as lung, stomach, colon, breast. However, the result alone is not of diagnostic value, other imaging and chemical laboratory tests are needed to diagnose certain diseases.

If the goal is to monitor treatment, a decrease in AFP levels indicates that the body is responding well to therapy. Elevated value indicates aggravation of the disease (larger tumour).

What to do after the test?

In all cases, consult your doctor with the obtained result after the examination, as the result does not in itself constitute a diagnosis. The alpha-fetoprotein test should be performed and evaluated in addition to other imaging procedures to establish an accurate diagnosis.

AFP laboratory test - Medicover

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