Hello Laura and Welcome to MedHelp.
AFP is used as a tumor marker to help detect and diagnose cancers of the liver, testes, and ovaries. Though the test is often ordered to monitor people with chronic liver diseases such as cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis B or hepatitis C because they have an increased lifetime risk of developing liver cancer, most current guidelines do not recommend this use. A doctor may order an AFP test, along with imaging studies, to try to detect liver cancer when it is in its earliest and most treatable stages. So as you can see her doctor will need to answer this question for you after evaluating her imaging result such as Ultra sound or CT Scan.
You mentioned “diagnosed 2 years ago the cause is unknown” has she been seeing a Hepatologist (liver specialist)? No other doctor is qualified to treat your mom’s condition. Her cirrhosis will continue to advance unless the cause can be “removed”.
Please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with. I wish you both the best. Take care.
I have had liver cancer for the last 22 months so besides reading all of the literature on the subject I am waiting for a transplant because my time is running out because for my cancer which is incurable without a transplant.
If you look on the test it says something like 'AFP < 8 is normal'. A '3' means her AFP is normal. But AFP should not be used to screen for liver cancer alone. It is only accurate at most 60% of the time. So many people with liver cancer can have normal AFP numbers.
Liver cancer is screened at 6 month intervals in corrhotics with a Ultrasound and AFP in combination. If a mass is found then a MRI with contrast should be performed to diagnosis if it is a benign growth or HCC (liver cancer).
You mother needs to be under the care of a liver transplant center. The doctors there are the only ones that know how to manage cirrhosis and how to monitor, diagnose and treat liver cancer. If liver cancer is caught too late and a patients has symptoms, then it is probably too late and the patient will only have months to live.
Cirrhosis improperly treated results in poor outcomes and can be fatal.
If your mom is not being treated at a transplant center get her to one as soon as possible.
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