I have an AFP result for 3.3 ug/l to 3.9 ug/l to 4.6 ug/l, from Mar 2012 to Oct 2012 to Nov 2012. What does this mean?
I know the AFP can become elevated in liver disease, but does the fact that it is increasing become significant as a marker for HCC? Ultrasounds have shown lesions on my husband's liver and they were hesitant to do the liver biopsy for that reason, but when they found his HHC (hemochromatosis) they decided to do it to assess level of liver damage.
I have tried researching this and all I can find is that anything over 400 is significant and considered "elevated" and that over 500 is indicative of HCC...I also know that HCC is "usually" only found in people with cirrhosis, but there are other risk factors aside from cirrhosis, some of which my husband has. I don't know enough about the aspects of liver disease that make the levels of certain tests elevate or decrease, and I don't know what I should be looking for with this AFP testing...I am seeing Dr on Mon morning and I will ask, but I feel like I would like to have some prior knowledge so that I know if what he is telling me is right or not...he's the only dr I have access to right now, and I don't trust docs anymore!!
The results are normal. Therefore there is nothing to be concerned about.
AFP level can increase for a number of reason including hepatitis infection, cirrhosis and as a sign of HCC (liver cancer).
Most lesions in the liver are benign and cause no problems. They also do not increase AFP.
Hemochromatosis can lead to the development of HCC but it has a low annual risk of hepatocellular carcinoma of around 1.5%. Hepatitis C caused cirrhosis has the highest rate of risk of all causes of liver disease 3-8% per year.
AFP is very rarely used alone to diagnose HCC. AFP can have false positives and false negatives. So it is not a accurate predictor of HCC. Imaging (CT scan with contrast or MRI with contrast) is used to diagnose HCC in combination with AFP.
It is not only the level of AFP by the rate of rise of AFP that can indicate there may be HCC. At that point an imaging tests should be done to try to find the tumor(s),
When AFP numbers are in the hundreds or rapidly rising is there a concern about HCC.
HCC is asymptomatic. The person feels fine. Only when the cancer is very advanced will a patient have symptoms. At that point it is probably fatal. That is why ALL cirrhotics should have ultrasound and AFP surveillance ever 6 months to look for developing HCC. Caught early it can temporarily treated but the patient will in time need a liver transplant in the next year or two be survive.
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