What Does Alpha – Fetoprotein (AFP) Screening Test Mean?

When the level of AFP (Alpha-fetoprotein) in the body increases, it is possible to lead to liver diseases, the most dangerous is liver cancer.

AFP screening for liver cancer is extremely essential to help detect the risk of liver cancer in the early stages, thereby helping to prevent serious health consequences in the best way.

Find Out About The Concentration of AFP

What is the AFP Index? AFP stands for Alpha foeto protein, which is a type of plasma protein found in the human body. AFP is produced by liver cells, the level of AFP increases in the body during the fetal stage or in the presence of conditions such as cirrhosis or liver cancer.


In adults or not pregnant, the level of AFP in the blood is very low, does not exceed the threshold of 10 nanograms per milliliter of blood (ng / ml). But in babies, AFP levels are usually high in the first few years of life before they gradually drop to normal.

Thus, when the body develops diseases related to liver function or some types of cancer, the level of AFP in the blood will increase.

What Is an AFP Test?

What is an AFP test? An AFP test is a test done by using a blood sample taken from a patient’s body to measure the level of AFP.

Having the results will help doctors detect the risk of birth defects to the fetus and liver cancer risk when combined with other tests.

However, it is not always possible to confirm that you have liver disease or other cancers such as liver cancer, ovarian cancer, or testicular cancer.

 In some cases, people are in normal health but AFP levels are still higher than others.

On the contrary, having an AFP level in the normal range does not rule out the possibility of you having liver problems. This is why performing an AFP test cannot be used in cancer diagnosis or screening.

But through AFP liver cancer screening combined with other tests will help doctors diagnose cancer, track cancer treatment is effective or not, and evaluate the possibility of recurrence of cancer. cancer after the end of treatment.

Subject Should Be Screened for Liver Cancer AFP

Currently, many people still do not understand the importance of being screened for liver cancer? And what does it mean for health?

As we all know, liver cancer is a dangerous disease leading to many health consequences.

Liver cancer often has vague signs and develops silently in the patient’s body. Early detection of liver cancer is of great importance in the treatment of the disease.


One way to detect liver cancer at an early stage is through liver cancer screening. Accordingly, we should screen for liver cancer every 6 months / 1 time.

People should be screened for liver cancer when they are in a high-risk group for liver disease such as:

Family history of liver cancer.

  • People who regularly use alcohol for a long time.
  • People who are obese and suffer from cardiovascular diseases, diabetes.

In some cases, doctors are also ordered to have a liver AFP test:

The patient is suspected of having liver cancer, ovarian or testicular cancer.

After preliminary examination, there is a perceived tumor in the abdomen or through imaging tests.

AFP test used to monitor the progress of hepatitis, cirrhosis.

Monitor and diagnose the risk of cancer recurrence.

AFP Screening Process for Liver Cancer

Usually, no special preparation is required before taking the test. Depending on the requirements of the test and the health condition, the doctor will have specific instructions for the patient.

However, you also need to limit foods high in protein, eggs, and dairy and do not use stimulants that will affect the test results.

The best time to take a blood sample is in the early morning. Once done, the doctor will disinfect the injection site and begin to draw blood through the vein. Some cases may appear bruising after blood draw but not affect the health.

After the sample is tested, it will measure the concentration of AFP in the blood. The time to return results depends on the facility conducting the test, whether results can be returned online, at home or picked up at the hospital.

How Do I Understand The AFP Test Results?


The AFP test is a primary tumor marker test. Valuable in helping guide cancer diagnosis and monitoring treatment.

Through the AFP index ng/ml you can read the results as follows:

  • The level of AFP in the blood is normal: AFP <25 UI / ml.
  • When the level of AFP in the blood exceeds 25 UI / ml, there may be the presence of cancer cells, typically liver cancer, ovarian cancer and testicular cancer.

For patients with liver cancer, high AFP levels result often fall into the following cases:

  • In the case of patients with liver cancer with AFP concentrations> 25 UI / ml about 80%.
  • In the case of liver cancer patients with AFP levels> 100 UI / ml about 60%.
  • In the case of liver cancer patients with AFP concentrations> 300 UI / ml about 50%.

Although AFP tests do help guide the diagnosis of the disease. But when the AFP concentration is> 300 UI / ml and the ultrasound has a negative volume, it can definitely confirm the patient has liver cancer.

When combining the AFP level test in the blood with two other markers, AFP-L3 and PIVKA-II, it will be especially valuable in diagnosing cancer in terms of accuracy and time to give results quickly.


But when reading the results of an AFP test, the patient should also note that:

  • When the AFP level is high, it can not be sure that you have cancer, but it can be caused by diseases such as hepatitis, cirrhosis.
  • About 20-30% of patients have primary cancer, but the AFP levels are still normal.
  • When AFP levels are> 200 UI / ml, there is a chance that you have cancer. Now to get the most accurate results, doctors will order additional tests AFP – L3. If the AFP-L3 level increases by more than 10% compared to normal, the chance of you getting cancer is very high.

So depending on the case of disease, when the AFP test results, whether high or low concentrations, the patient should not be confused or too subjective.

The best way is to consult a specialist to understand the most accurate results and to have an appropriate diagnosis and treatment if you suspect the disease.

Where Should Be Screened for Liver Cancer?

Where to screen for liver cancer? How much does an AFP Test cost? Certainly the top concern of many people, especially those in the high-risk group of liver disease.

The cost of screening for liver cancer depends on many factors, the procedure for examining and the doctor’s appointment for each patient is different. Prices also vary between facilities, hospitals, and may change from time to time.

Common screening for liver cancer includes steps such as:

  • Clinical examination to evaluate the condition of the liver, from which doctors will base on the initial results to advise and offer prices on the types of tests that patients need to perform.
  •  Liver function test for an in-depth assessment.
  • Additional tests include a hepatitis virus test and an AFP level test.
  • Liver ultrasound, liver biopsy.

Screening for liver cancer patients may only perform 2 or all of the above tests depending on the assessment and diagnosis of the doctor.

There are also cases when cancer is suspected, and other tests are required. Therefore, depending on the condition and the diagnosis requirements, the price of liver cancer screening can range from 5 million to 12 million dongs.


Where is the best cancer screening? Currently, there are many hospitals conducting cancer screening across the country. However, if you have a busy schedule and still have many problems in wanting to learn and advise more about the cancer screening process but are afraid to wait, you can schedule a consultation appointment through the hotline 19001717 of Diag.

Diag is a leading prestigious medical diagnostic testing center, modern equipment, a team of highly qualified doctors, and attentive services that will help you feel secure when conducting examination and counseling. Comprehensive and tested guarantees safety and high accuracy.

Thus, AFP screening for liver cancer is a tool contributing to the diagnosis of liver cancer in the early stages, which is significant in monitoring treatment results. Early cancer screening is the best proactive way to protect our health that we should each year.

The site cannot and does not contain medical advice. The medical information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information. We encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals.



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