An alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) tumor marker test is a blood test used to measure the level of AFP in the blood. AFP is a protein that is produced by the liver and the yolk sac of a developing baby during pregnancy. An elevated level of AFP in the blood can indicate the presence of certain types of cancer or other medical conditions. Here are some reasons why you might need an AFP tumor marker test:
Liver cancer: An elevated AFP level can be a sign of liver cancer. This test is often used in combination with other tests, such as imaging studies, to diagnose liver cancer and monitor the effectiveness of treatment.
Germ cell tumors: AFP is also produced by certain types of germ cell tumors, such as testicular cancer and ovarian cancer. An AFP tumor marker test can be used to monitor the effectiveness of treatment and to detect recurrences.
Other medical conditions: An elevated AFP level can also be seen in other medical conditions, such as cirrhosis, hepatitis, and certain pregnancy complications. The AFP tumor marker test can be used to help diagnose these conditions and monitor their progression.
It’s important to note that an elevated AFP level doesn’t necessarily mean that you have cancer or another medical condition. Additional tests and evaluations are typically needed to confirm a diagnosis. Your healthcare provider will determine whether an AFP tumor marker test is necessary based on your individual medical history and symptoms.