Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) test is used for checking the levels of alpha-fetoprotein in a mother-to-be’s blood. It is also called the maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein (MSAFP) test.
Alpha-fetoprotein is a protein produced in a foetus’ liver. It can cross the placenta and pass into the bloodstream of the mother. The levels of AFP are high at the time of delivery and then decrease gradually. It is also present in very low levels in those who are not pregnant.
Read further to know more about the AFP blood test in Chennai, including its price and cost, procedure, side effects, test results, etc.
In those who are not pregnant, the test can be used:
The alpha-fetoprotein test measures the levels of AFP present in the blood.
No side effects are associated with an AFP test, although, for a few days, some pain might be felt in the area from where the blood is taken using a needle. You may also experience some dizziness. In rare cases, hematoma, which is the collection of blood outside the blood vessels, can also occur.
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The AFP test is performed during the second trimester of pregnancy, i.e., somewhere between the 15th and 20th weeks. It is also definitely recommended if you are above the age of 35, have diabetes, intake harmful drugs during pregnancy, or have congenital disorders running in your family.
The test is also performed if your doctor feels you have a liver disease or a certain kind of cancer or are at a risk of developing these. It can also be done if you are undergoing treatment for cancer.
No specific preparations are required for the AFP test. However, do inform your doctor about any drugs you are currently taking.
The AFP test involves taking a blood sample from a vein located in your arm. A syringe is used for the same. The area from where the blood would be taken would first be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. Once the blood sample has been collected, it will be sent to the laboratory.
The normal range for the AFP test for pregnant women in their second trimester is 10-150 ng/mL. Similarly, for adults, the normal range is less than 40 ng/mL and for infants is less than 30 ng/mL.
Increased levels of AFP can signify miscalculated due date, multiple pregnancy, liver disease (such as hepatitis), the presence of tumours and different types of cancers mentioned above. A rise in the AFP levels after or while receiving treatment for cancer indicates that the disease is returning or that the treatment is ineffective. Elevated levels of AFP can also indicate spinal dysraphisms (neural tube defects) or anencephaly in the foetus.
On the other hand, decreased levels of AFP can signify that the foetus has Down syndrome or Edwards syndrome. These declining levels of AFP can also indicate that the treatment you are receiving for cancer is efficient.
If you have received treatment for cancer and the AFP levels in your blood neither increased nor decreased, it could mean that the condition of the disease is stable.
Sometimes, the AFP test can also give a false-positive result, i.e, your baby would be healthy, but you might still receive an abnormal test result. These atypical results, thus, do not always signify that there is some defect with the foetus. You may be asked to undergo other tests for a confirmatory diagnosis.
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