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Br Med J. Jun 8, 1974; 2(5918): 527–529.
PMCID: PMC1610895

Serum α-Fetoprotein: Diagnostic Significance in Liver Disease


Raised serum α-fetoprotein levels measured by radioimmunoassay were found in 19 out of 24 (79%) patients with primary liver cancer and in 32 out of 311 (10%) patients with other liver diseases. The rise was transient in cases of hepatitis and a transient rise was also seen after alcohol intake ceased in two patients with cirrhosis. α-Fetoprotein levels exceeding 500 ng/ml were 30-50 times more common in primary liver cancer than in other liver diseases. A rise in level seems to reflect the extent of liver regeneration in liver diseases other than primary cancer.

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Selected References

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  • Chayvialle JA, Ganguli PC. Radioimmunoassay of alpha-fetoprotein in human plasma. Lancet. 1973 Jun 16;1(7816):1355–1357. [PubMed]
  • Elgort DA, Abelev GI, O'Conor GT. Dependence of the specificity of the serologic test for primary liver cancer in different areas of the world on sensitivity of the method used for detecting alpha-fetoprotein. Int J Cancer. 1972 Sep 15;10(2):331–337. [PubMed]
  • Ruoslahti E, Seppälä M. Studies of carcino-fetal proteins. 3. Development of a radioimmunoassay for -fetoprotein. Demonstration of -fetoprotein in serum of healthy human adults. Int J Cancer. 1971 Nov 15;8(3):374–383. [PubMed]
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  • Ruoslahti E, Seppälä M, Vuopio P, Saksela E, Peltokallio P. [Radioimmunoassay of alpha-fetoprotein in primary and secondary cancer of the liver]. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1972 Sep;49(3):623–630. [PubMed]
  • Ruoslahti E, Seppälä M, Räsänen JA, Vuopio P, Helske T. Alpha-fetoprotein and hepatitis B antigen in acute hepatitis and primary cancer of the liver. Scand J Gastroenterol. 1973;8(3):197–202. [PubMed]
  • Seppälä M, Ruoslahti E. Alpha-fetoprotein in normal and pregnancy sera. Lancet. 1972 Feb 12;1(7746):375–376. [PubMed]

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