I am a 40 year old, non smoking female. I have had IBS symptoms since I was approximately 16. In late 2012, I began having abdominal pain and bloating. An ultrasound discovered that I had a small liver cyst and a hemangioma (0.7 cm). A CT scan did not show either of these. However, my doctor also ordered an AFP test which did show slight elevation (11.0). In early 2013, it was discovered that I had erosive gastritis via endocscope. This was treated and a follow up endoscopy and colonoscopy showed no abnormalities. I had an ultrasound in May 2014, no change to hemangioma or cysts, and otherwise normal. But now my AFP is 11.9. I do not have abnormal liver enzymes. What could be causing this? I am concerned that the hemangioma - though generally stable in size - is in fact a developing HCC. Any thoughts? The only history of liver problems that I've had is mononucleosis in 1991 that inflamed my liver. I have not had issues with my liver since then.
Here are some basic facts about HCC and AFP that you may not be aware of...
The AFP level is never used alone to diagnose HCC. It is only used along with imaging for diagnosis. If AFP was used to diagnose HCC than 40% of HCCs would be missed as only 60% of HCCs give off AFP.
HCC is almost always diagnosed using MRI or sometimes CT with and without contrast.which reveals the blood flow characteristics of HCC. All HCC grows, like all cancers. So anything that stays the same size is not cancer. That is the vary definition of cancer. That is why when someone has HCC their AFP while continually rise into the hundreds or thousands.
Hemangioma is the most common benign lesion found in the liver. It is a bundle of blood vessels. It can NEVER turn into cancer. HCC or any other cancer.
Only people infected with chronic hepatitis B or who have cirrhosis of the liver have a higher than normal risk of HCC which is a cancer of the liver cells.
AFP can be high or rise (although an AFP is hardly considered high) from other things than HCC. Inflammation can cause a rise in AFP levels. Many people chronically infected with hepatitis C have higher than normal AFP levels. This is due to inflammation not HCC. When the term "AFP rise" or "being high" is used regarding HCC it means a constantly rising level in the 10s, then hundreds and sometimes in the thousands not 11 or 12. AFP only confirms HCC when it is over 500. Which would be seen on MRI and treated if possible before the tumor or tumors got that large or that many.
Talk to your doctor, Gastroenterologist(?). They are knowledgeable about lesions of the liver and can explain that you have no reason to be concerned. They will explain that your AFP number is nothing to worry about and that cysts and hemangiomas can NEVER become cancerous.
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