AFP Blood Test

Alpha-Fetoprotein Blood Test

The alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) blood test the most widely used blood test is used to detect cancers of the liver, testes, and ovaries. The AFP is also used to monitor people with chronic liver diseases such as chronic hepatitis B or cirrhosis because of their increased risk of developing cancer.  In pregnant women high a concentration of AFP may indicate problems with the baby.

AFP is a protein made normally in the liver cells of a fetus.  Infants have high levels of the protein in their blood with levels generally falling to a normal adult level by the child’s first birthday. 

Cancer Screening

AFP in the blood can indicate certain types of cancer, especially cancer of the liver, testes, ovaries, pancreas or stomach.  AFP levels may also be elevated with lymphoma, renal cell cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, and brain tumors.

Alpha – Fetoprotein Blood Test For Women

Pregnant women are no stranger to frequent blood testing. They quick grow accustom to the screening processes for their own protection as well as their unborn child’s. The Alpha  Fetoprotein (AFP) blood test is one that tests for a substance made by the unborn child’s liver. This test can detail health concerns and diseases such as Spina Bifida and anencephaly. The AFP blood test is generally administered after the 15th week of pregnancy, but before 22 weeks. It can also detail chromosomal problems such as Down’s syndrome and Edwards Syndrome.

Screening For Defects

The Alpha – Fetoprotein blood tests are commonly referred to as screenings to determine the risk or chances of the baby having some type of birth defect. A higher level of the AFP hormone is not always an indication of birth defects, but is considered a heightened risk for them. AFP is generally found in low levels in the blood stream of pregnant women, but can be elevated greatly. This allows the doctors to make a diagnosis, as well as determine the need for further testing.

Ranges & Levels

The AFP blood test ranges can vary as it can be used on different groups of individuals. Below is a range of normal levels:

  • Women that are not pregnant should range between 0 and 20 ng/mL
  • Men should range between 0 and 20 ng/mL
  • Pregnant Women between weeks 15 and 22 should average between 7 and 124 ng/mL