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Why isn't there a consensus on normal AFP range.
May 29, 2005

Hello Dr. McGovern Why isn't there a consensus on normal AFP range. reading articles online you will see the normal range from 0-15 ug/L to 0-6ug/L. I'm assuming that ug/L is the same as ng/ml. I'm 35 yrs old and inactive carrier of hep b-undetecable hbv and all liver enzymes normal. I'm married with two young children 3yrs and 1 yr. they are all ok and have been tested and vaccinated. but each time I go for the bi-annual exam afp and ultrasound I'm terrified because I want to be around to see my children grow up. my afp 9 months ago was 17.2ng/ml(normal range <15 ng/ml) six months ago it 13.1 ng/ml normal range < 15 ng/ml. I just had a recent test done and it was 14.8 ug/L this was a different lab. This lab on the normal range says <6.4 ug/L. I have an appointment in a month with my dr. I'm very anxious in the mean time. can you please tell me why there are different normal range and there is not a consensus. Is ug/L the same as ng/ml(mathematically it is) but I don't know if there is anything else involved. thanks.

Response from Dr. McGovern

Actually variation in AFP measurements from lab to lab is nothing unique. This is true for almost any laboratory. Each lab needs to standardize their own laboratory range for normal and abnormal.

Furthermore, real concerns regarding hepatoma (liver cancer) arise usually when levels are greater than 300 and greater - not just a shade above normal.

Furhtermore, AFP is a poor tumor marker because it can be normal in patients with tumors so it has a low sensitivity.

In general, you are at LOW risk because you are an inactive carrier with no detectable viremia. Enjoy your children! I wouldn't have such high levels of anxiety about these AFP levels every time they are drawn. High levels of stress and anxiety are not going to help your body either.

Dr. McGovern



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