AFP (Alpha Feto Protein)

Clinical definition of the Alpha Feto Protein (AFP) test
Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP, α-fetoprotein) is a major plasma protein that is produced by the yolk sac and the liver during fetal life. It is encoded by the AFP gene in humans. AFP is measured in pregnant women, using maternal blood or amniotic fluid, as a screening test for a subset developmental abnormality. It principally increases in open neural tube defects and omphalocoele & decreases in Down’s syndrome.

Why is the Alpha Feto Protein (AFP) test done?
In pregnant women, the alphafetoprotein (AFP) test is a screening test drawn from maternal blood usually between 15-17 weeks gestation to help find babies who suffer from neural tube defects (NTD) or Down Syndrome. In non-pregnant women, other adults, and children, AFP serves as a biomarker to detect, diagnose and monitor a subset of tumors such as those of liver, testes, and ovaries. It may also be done along with imaging studies to monitor people with chronic cirrhosis or hepatitis B; to detect liver cancer when it is in its earliest & treatable stages; and to monitor cancer recurrence.

What are the common signs/symptoms when the Alpha Feto Protein (AFP) test is done?

  • Pregnant related symptoms
  • Lumps felt in the abdominal area during a physical exam or when imaging tests detect possible tumors

Who should do the Alpha Feto Protein (AFP) test (Target population)?

  • Patients with chronic liver diseases
  • Those suspected to be at a high risk of cancer of the ovary , testes or liver
  • Women in the 15th to 23st week of pregnancy (as a part of the Triple marker Tests)

What should I do before the Alpha Feto Protein (AFP) test?

Specimen type

Specimen collection procedure

Preparatory instructions during specimen collection*

Serum (Blood Sample)

Venipuncture - Collection of blood from a vein, usually from the arm.

No Fasting Required.

No other special preparations required.

*Subjects suffering from any illness or on oral or injectable medications are advised to consult their physician prior to requesting any tests or procedures.

How do I interpret my Alpha Feto Protein (AFP) test results?

Reference

Normal range

Normal Male

0.50-5.50 IU/ml

Non-Pregnant Female

0.356-2.64 IU/ml

Pregnant Female : Weeks of Gestation

15th Week

18.2-45.5

16th Week

21.1-52.7

17th Week

24.5-61.0

18th Week

28.3-81.9

19th Week

32.8-81.9

20th Week

37.9-95.0

21st Week

40.0-100.0

22nd Week

45.0-120.0

23rd Week

52.0-138.0

Children

0.0 – 5.5 IU/ml

‘*A Reference range is a set of values which helps the healthcare professional to interpret a medical test. It may vary with age, gender, and other factors. Reference ranges may also vary between labs, in value & units depending on instruments used and method of establishment of reference ranges’

Diseases/conditions related to the Alpha Feto Protein (AFP) test

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Chronic cirrhosis
  • Hepatitis B

Other tests related to the Alpha Feto Protein (AFP) test

  • CA-125
  • CA 15.3
  • CA 19.9
  • Complex PSA/ PSA
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen (CEA)
  • Beta- hCG
  • Des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin (DCP)

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AFP (Alpha Feto Protein)

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