Alpha-fetoprotein is a protein mass. It is found in the liver and gastrointestinal tract. AFP is the precursor of albumin. Refers to one of the very first identified oncomarkers (confirmed).
Now let's see what the blood test of AFP means when it is assigned to a person. The indications are as follows:
- If you suspect a disease like liver damage to cancer cells.
- When observing a patient with oncological diseases.
- To monitor the development of the fetus in the womb.
- For the diagnosis of any malformation of the fetus.
- For the treatment of various tumors that form in the cells of the embryo.
In order to understand what the AFP blood test means, it is important to know that the result of this study makes it possible to understand whether there are any pathologies in the fetus, the future child. In addition, this examination can reveal the presence of a disease such as liver cancer. And also AFP allows to determine the presence of oncology in the male organs of the reproductive system. When an organism infects the oncology of the testicles, AFP is present in the body in most cases. Particularly manifested in the late stages of the disease.
What does the AFP blood test mean in pregnancy?
Alpha protein has a protective function. Its essence lies in the fact that it provides protection of the fetus from the immune system of a woman. Alpha protein prevents rejection of the fetus.
In addition, it provides oxygen transfer to the fetus. At the beginning of the ovary tissue, a yellow body is identified. Next, the fetus performs this function. Usually this happens after 5 weeks. The AFP index rises in the woman's blood in the fetal position and in the blood. The highest level is reached at 32 weeks of gestation. Then it begins to decline. After the child was born, this indicator has an overestimated value. But a year later comes back to normal.
When decoding the values of this indicator it is necessary to adhere to certain norms. You should know that they vary depending on the method.
We figured out what the AFP blood test means. And what are the norms?
The norm of AFP content in the body of a woman who carries a baby is 10 ng / ml, but it can reach up to 8 IU / ml. In order for the values of the indicators to lead to a single indicator, the MoM value was entered. This abbreviation means multyplec of median. MoM makes it possible to compare different parameters of AFP content at different periods of pregnancy. In addition, due to the use of MoM, it is possible to compare the results of analyzes obtained from different laboratories. For AFP, the norm is 0.5 to 2.5 for Mom. Depending on what biochemical methods were used in the analysis, its indicators may fluctuate. There are two ways of obtaining the results of the presence of AFP in the body. Namely, immunochemical and immunoenzymatic. In order to conduct a study, it is necessary to take the following substances:
- The liquid part of the blood, namely plasma or serum.
- The liquid that is present between the pleura.
- Acidic liquid.
- Contents of cystosis.
- Fluid from the uterus.
How should I take a blood test for AFP?
To reveal the general picture of the state of the body, it is necessary to take this analysis several times. According to its indicators, the dynamics of the development of one or another process in the body will be understood. AFP is considered an oncomarker. Therefore, it can be compared with the results of analyzes of other oncomarkers.
For accurate diagnosis, the blood test for AFP should be taken in the same laboratory. This is necessary for the results to be made by one method.
Increased AFP. What does it indicate?
If the analysis shows that there is an elevated level of AFP in the human body, this does not mean that the person is suffering from cancer. To make a diagnosis, you need to make a comprehensive examination of the body, and not just donate blood to AFP (alpha-fetoprotein). For accurate diagnosis, the doctor appoints an additional examination to the patient, for example, MRI, ultrasound, tomography, histology.
What pathologies can a person have at an elevated level of AFP?
- Oncological diseases of the liver and gallbladder.
- Neoplasms of pancreatic tissue.
- Oncology of the stomach and intestines.
- Lesions of the lungs with cancer cells.
- The formation of malignant cells in the genital organs of men and women.
- The presence of metastases in the body.
In addition to oncology, an elevated AFP test may indicate the presence of other diseases in the body. For example, it can be: cirrhosis, hepatitis, neglected forms of alcoholism. Or hepatic insufficiency. In obstetrics and gynecology, this indicator indicates any features of the body. Namely, a high level of AFP may result from the fact that there is a multiple pregnancy in the body. Also, an elevated level of this analysis can signal a violation of its development. For example, liver failure, the presence of anencephaly in the development of the fetus, spine defects, umbilical hernia and other pathologies.
In addition to the increased level of AFP, a lower level can also be observed. What does it mean? If we talk about pregnant women, then lowering AFP may indicate the development of Down's syndrome in a future child.
Delays in mental development are also possible. Death of the fetus is also accompanied by a decrease in the indicator of this analysis. Miscarriage may occur with a low score or a false pregnancy.
How to prepare for delivery?
In order for the AFP-test to be reliable, it is necessary to follow the recommendations for preparation. For a couple of weeks before putting the material for the study, you should stop taking any medications. Since they can affect the results of the analysis. Just before donating blood, you need to follow a certain diet, namely, to give up fatty and spicy food. In addition, do not drink alcohol. Also, the result of the analysis may be affected by physical exercises. Therefore, a couple of days before the visit to the laboratory should give up playing sports and any loads. These include the wearing of heavy bags, cleaning, long walks. It is necessary to spend the days before taking the test in a calm state. Do not eat for the night before the surrender of blood. It is necessary to refuse to eat after 9 pm. In the morning, you can use ordinary water, but not more than 200 milliliters. Do not drink tea or coffee. Since the use of anything other than water can affect the level of protein in the blood. This analysis should be taken in the morning, almost immediately after sleep. Therefore, it is better that the laboratory is directly next to the place of residence.
This type of analysis began to do relatively recently, namely in the 70s of the last century. At this time, scientists calculated that an increase in the AFP in the blood is a consequence of the presence in the body of serious diseases. More often this study is assigned to pregnant women, in order to detect any abnormalities in fetal development.
Now you know what the analysis of AFP is, the transcript of this research is examined in detail in the article. If you plan to undergo this examination, then be sure to prepare for it.