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Alpha Fetoprotein Test: Costs, Purpose, Normal Range and Interpretation

Alpha Fetoprotein (AFP) Test
  • Sample Type : Blood
  • Parameters : 1
  • Report Time : 24/48 Hrs
  • Home Collection: Yes
  • Fasting : Not Required
  • Age Group: All
OFFER PRICE:  ₹720 ₹980 30% off


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The AFP test, also known as the alpha-fetoprotein test, is prescribed for pregnant women between the 15th and 20th week of pregnancy1. The measurement of alpha-fetoprotein levels in pregnancy is important because it helps detect certain defects and abnormalities. The AFP normal range in pregnancy indicates that your fetus is completely healthy. 

Learn everything about the Alpha-fetoprotein test before you book a lab test online. Understand the why, how, and what of this test.

What Does the AFP Test Measure?

The AFP protein test measures the alpha-fetoprotein level in babies. During pregnancy, an AFP blood test assesses the baby's risk of birth defects and genetic disorders like neural tube defects or Down syndrome. It doesn't provide a diagnosis but indicates the need for further testing if results are abnormal 2.

Outside pregnancy, the AFP test assists in diagnosing certain cancers that elevate the alpha-fetoprotein level in adults. In this context, it's termed an AFP tumour marker test. Also, AFP blood tests are used to evaluate the progress of anti-cancer treatment 3.

Why Do Doctors Recommend AFP Test?

Doctors recommend AFP tests when you have any chronic disease or genetic disorders. Your genetic disorder or diabetes 4 might affect your baby, so doctors suggest alpha-fetoprotein lab tests. Here are a few other reasons doctors might recommend the AFP protein test 5

During Pregnancy:

  • Alpha-fetoprotein tests in pregnancy are performed between weeks 15 and 20.
  • It assesses the risk of the baby developing neural tube defects, Down's syndrome, Edward's syndrome, and other chromosomal abnormalities.
  • Neural tube defects can affect the brain or spine development, while Down's syndrome causes intellectual disabilities.
  • Alpha-fetoprotein tests in pregnancy are essential to diagnose Edward's syndrome is a severe genetic disorder impacting a child's development.

For Tumor Detection:

  • The AFP test can be utilised to diagnose liver, ovarian, or testicular cancer.
  • Alpha-fetoprotein lab tests are also used in monitoring the effectiveness of cancer treatment and detecting metastasis.
  • The test is valuable for checking cancer recurrence and assessing liver conditions like hepatitis or cirrhosis.
  • In liver cancer cases, it helps determine the appropriate treatment method, such as targeted therapy or chemotherapy, for optimal results.

How To Prepare For AFP Test?

The steps below help you ensure that your AFP test provides the most accurate information about your health.

  • Medication guidelines: Tell your healthcare provider about all the drugs, supplements or herbal remedies you are taking, as some substances may affect test results. Follow any specific instructions regarding drug adjustment before testing.
  • Contact to doctor: Share your entire medical history with existing conditions or symptoms to help explain test results.

What Happens During AFP Testing?

An AFP Test only takes a few minutes.

  • As per the scheduled time of the blood test, a Lab Technician who usually takes blood samples will arrive.
  • A thin needle will be used to draw blood from your arm’s vein.
  • The needle might cause a mild pinch and some discomfort.
  • The lab technician then fills a collection tube with blood and then removes the needle from the skin.
  • They place a small bandage on the arm

Please note: There might be slight pain or bruising at the spot of insertion, but most of the symptoms go away quickly.

Should you book blood test online to check your health condition or go to the nearest clinic and get it done by a medical professional?  Let's Find Out

Can I Take an AFP Test At Home?

Yes, the AFP Test can be taken at home. HealthcareOnTime's at-home lab testing service, in association with thyrocare, provides a convenient and efficient way to get blood testing done from the comfort of your own home without the need for a doctor's visit or a trip to a lab. It's important to note that it's always a good idea to consult with an expert healthcare provider about any queries you may have about your test results.

How Much Does the AFP Test Cost?

The AFP test price varies significantly depending on many factors:

  • Location: The AFP test prices in India may vary depending on the city or the region in which the test is conducted. For example, in Bangalore or Mumbai, it might be expensive as compared to small towns.  
  • Type of facility centres:  The AFP test charge also varies between private hospitals, government hospitals, and diagnostic centres. Cost is lower in government hospitals as compared to private ones.
  • Healthcare centres: Diagnostic centres, laboratories and hospitals may have different AFP test prices. It depends upon the benefits and reputation of the healthcare centre. 
  • Insurance Coverage: Individuals with health insurance can cover partial or all costs depending on their policy coverage and network providers.
  • Additional services: Additional services such as home sample collection, express test results, or additional charges for special management may be paid, which contributes to the overall AFP test price.

Generally, the AFP test cost in India ranges from Rs. 500 to Rs. 1000. By opting for HealthcareOnTime lab test at-home facilities, you can access the AFP test at the cost of INR 720.

You received your AFP blood test results but still need help determining if they fall under the normal range. Read this section to know if your results range between the AFP normal range.

What Does AFP Test Results Mean?

Every pregnant woman is generally advised to take an alpha-fetoprotein blood test. The AFP test normal range is nothing to be worried about. However, high AFP in pregnancy may mean genetic disorders. Let us look at what AFP test results mean 6.

  • High AFP Levels: Elevated AFP levels could indicate liver, ovarian, or testicular cancer. However, it doesn't definitively diagnose cancer, as liver injury or non-cancerous liver diseases can also cause high AFP levels. In rarer cases, high AFP levels may signal other cancers like lymphoma or lung cancer. Your healthcare provider will consider your medical history and other tests for an accurate diagnosis.
  • Normal AFP Levels: Normal AFP levels suggest a lower likelihood of cancer associated with elevated AFP levels. Nevertheless, a normal result doesn't entirely rule out cancer, as some individuals with cancer may exhibit normal AFP levels.

During Cancer Treatment: 

If you're undergoing cancer treatment, multiple AFP tests may be conducted to monitor your progress. Changes in AFP levels can provide insights into your treatment's efficacy:

  • Increasing AFP levels may indicate treatment ineffectiveness.
  • Decreasing AFP levels suggests treatment success.
  • Stable AFP levels imply the disease hasn't worsened or improved.

Post-Treatment Monitoring: 

After completing cancer treatment, AFP tests can assess the effectiveness of the therapy and potential cancer recurrence:

  • Abnormal results post-treatment may suggest lingering cancer cells.
  • Rising AFP levels post-treatment could signify cancer recurrence.

Liver Disease Considerations: 

Individuals with chronic liver diseases may require additional tests if AFP levels significantly rise or remain persistently high, as it could indicate potential liver cancer development.

Consult your healthcare provider to interpret your AFP test results accurately and understand their implications for your health.

What is AFP Test Normal Range?

The alpha-fetoprotein normal range indicates your baby is healthy and free from liver disorders and genetic defects. As well as the elevated levels are considered as follows7:

AFP Levels


0 ng/mL - 10 ng/mL (or up to 40 ng/mL)

Normal range for adults; levels may vary by age and race. Consult your healthcare provider for personalised interpretation based on your medical history and demographics.

Greater than 400 ng/mL

Potentially indicative of liver tumours; further evaluation and testing may be necessary.

High levels

May also suggest other cancers like Hodgkin's disease, lymphoma, or renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer). Additional diagnostic procedures may be required for accurate diagnosis.

Note that the normal AFP levels in pregnancy in some labs may differ as they might use different methods and samples to measure the result. 

What Medical Conditions Can Cause High AFP Levels? 

Several medical conditions, including pregnancy, liver cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, and testicular carcinoma, can cause elevated AFP levels. This makes AFP a crucial marker for diagnosing and monitoring these related malignancies.8

What Medical Conditions Can Cause Low AFP Levels?

If the AFP level is lower than the normal range, it can mean the baby might have certain genetic disorders or congenital disabilities like Down syndrome and Edward Syndrome.


Ref Links: 

The AFP test results, along with other factors such as maternal age, gestational age, and sometimes additional blood tests, are used to calculate the individual risk of certain abnormalities. The results are typically presented as a screening result with a specific risk factor, such as "1 in 1000" or "1 in 100."

If the AFP test or the combined screening indicates a higher risk of a specific abnormality, further diagnostic tests, such as ultrasound, amniocentesis, or chorionic villus sampling (CVS), may be recommended for a more accurate diagnosis.

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  • Disclaimer: HealthcareOnTime offers extensively researched information, including laboratory testing for health screening. However, we must emphasize that this content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always prioritize consulting your healthcare provider for accurate medical guidance and personalized treatment. Remember, your health is of paramount importance, and only a qualified medical professional can make precise determinations regarding your well-being. Protection Status Protection Status Protection Status