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IHC - AFP (Alpha-Fetoprotein)

IHC - AFP (Alpha-Fetoprotein)

Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) is a protein that is produced by the liver and yolk sac of a developing fetus during pregnancy. The IHC - AFP test is an immunohistochemical analysis that measures the amount of AFP in tissue samples. High levels of AFP can be a sign of certain types of cancers such as liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) and germ cell tumors.

Immunohistochemistry (IHC) uses antibodies to detect the presence of specific proteins, such as AFP, in tissue samples. The test is useful in diagnosing, staging and monitoring the treatment of these cancers.


  • Test NameIHC - AFP (Alpha-Fetoprotein)
  • Sample TypeTissue
  • Preparations RequiredNo specific instructions are required for this test, as it is performed on a tissue sample usually obtained via biopsy.
  • Report Time3 days

Why is the IHC - AFP test important?

The IHC - AFP test is important because it helps to diagnose certain types of cancers, notably liver cancer and germ cell tumors. Elevated levels of AFP can indicate the presence of these cancers, making it a useful diagnostic and monitoring tool.

Is fasting required for this test?

No, fasting is not required for this test as it is performed on a tissue sample.

Home Sample Collection Process
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Sample Collection by Phlebotomist
Sample Collection by Phlebotomist
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Reporting of the sample at lab
Reporting of the sample at lab
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Frequently Asked Questions

This test is typically performed when liver cancer or germ cell tumors are suspected based on other diagnostic tests and symptoms.

The IHC - AFP test measures the level of AFP in tissue samples. High levels of AFP can be an indication of liver cancer or germ cell tumors.

The frequency of this test depends on the doctor's recommendations, usually in response to treatment or to monitor the progression of disease.

In adults, AFP levels are normally low. However, high levels could suggest the presence of certain types of cancer, such as liver cancer and germ cell tumors.

There are no specific precautions needed for this test. However, it's important to share with your doctor any medications or supplements you're taking as they might affect other test results.

Factors that can affect AFP levels include liver diseases, like cirrhosis or hepatitis, and certain cancers. Pregnancy can also elevate AFP levels.

You should consult an oncologist if your AFP levels are high. They can provide guidance on further diagnostic tests and treatment options.

Yes, this test can be used to monitor the effectiveness of treatment for cancers that produce AFP. A decreasing AFP level usually indicates the treatment is working.

Yes, other tests can help confirm an AFP result, including imaging tests (like ultrasound or CT scan), biopsy, and sometimes molecular testing.

A negative result, or a result within the normal range, suggests that AFP is not present in elevated levels in the tissue sample, indicating that AFP-producing tumors might not be present.

A positive result means that AFP levels are high in the tissue sample. This could suggest the presence of liver cancer or germ cell tumors.

Yes, sometimes the test can give false-positive or false-negative results. Other conditions, such as liver diseases and pregnancy, can affect AFP levels. Additionally, not all people with these types of cancer will have elevated AFP levels.

The pain associated with this test is related to the biopsy procedure used to obtain the tissue sample. The level of discomfort or pain varies depending on the specific location and method of biopsy.

There are no known medications that significantly affect the AFP levels, but it's always important to share with your doctor any medications or supplements you're currently taking.

The risks associated with the IHC - AFP test are mostly related to the biopsy procedure, which may include bleeding, infection, and discomfort at the biopsy site.

Yes, elevated AFP levels can also be seen in some non-cancerous liver conditions, like cirrhosis and hepatitis. It's also important to note that not all cancers will cause elevated AFP levels.

Currently, the AFP test is not recommended for routine cancer screening in asymptomatic individuals. However, it may be used to help monitor individuals with an increased risk of certain cancers.

The IHC - AFP test alone cannot differentiate between different types of cancers. However, it can help to distinguish between certain types of cancers and other conditions. Other diagnostic tests will be necessary to accurately diagnose the type of cancer.

The tissue sample is typically collected via a biopsy procedure, which involves removing a small piece of tissue for testing. The method of biopsy will depend on the location of the tissue to be sampled.

No, there is no age limit to undergo this test. It is used in both adults and children as needed based on medical history and current symptoms.

Yes, this test can be done during pregnancy. However, AFP is normally produced in larger quantities by the fetal liver during pregnancy, so results need to be interpreted carefully.

The need for a repeat test depends on several factors, including the initial test results, the presence of symptoms, the progression of the disease, and the response to treatment.

High AFP levels associated with cancer or liver diseases may be reduced by treating the underlying condition. Regular follow-ups with your doctor are crucial to monitor your progress and adjust your treatment plan if necessary.

The IHC - AFP test is a reliable tool that helps to diagnose and monitor certain types of cancers. However, like all tests, it is most effective when used as part of a broader diagnostic approach. Discuss your test results with your doctor to understand the implications for your health better and to decide the best course of action.

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