1. What are the risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma?
This cancer usually occurs in people who have chronic scarring of the liver, called cirrhosis. Most commonly, this is caused by chronic infection from one of two viruses: hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Alcohol abuse also increases the risk of developing cirrhosis. Some inherited diseases, especially a disorder called haemochromatosis (in which the body absorbs and stores too much iron), which can cause cirrhosis and later hepatocellular carcinoma.
2. If my AFP is normal/abnormal, do I need other tests?
If you have chronic liver infection or damage, a high AFP could simply be due to the disease itself. If your AFP suddenly rises, or if it is very elevated, your doctor will usually ask for a study to look at your liver, such as an ultrasound CT scan or an MRI scan. These scans can often spot liver cancers if they are present. A normal AFP level cannot be used to exclude a diagnosis of liver or testicular cancer.
This article was last reviewed on 5 January 2010. | This article was last modified on 21 March 2013.
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