Pathology Handbook

HCG (tumour marker)

Synonyms

Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (HCG)

Clinical Indications

HCG levels are useful as a diagnostic aid and for monitoring treatment in some maligancies: 

  • Virtually all patients with gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD) i.e. molar pregnancy, choriocarcinoma and placental site trophoblastic tumours.
  • Non-seminomatous germ cell tumours (NSGCT) e.g. of testis and ovary

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Request on ICE

Availability

On request if specific criteria met.

Specific Criteria

Diagnostic aid and for monitoring patients with GTD and (in conjunction with AFP) a diagnostic aid and for monitoring patients with NSGCT of testis, ovary and other sites.

HCG should not be used for monitoring other malignancies.

Turnaround Time

Daily

Specimen

Serum

Volume

1 ml

Container

Vacutainer gold top

Causes for Rejection

Unlabelled or incorrectly labelled sample; not meeting specific criteria for analysis. 

Reference Range

< 5 U/litre

Half-life in Serum

Approx. 16 - 24 hours, decline may be biphasic with a second half-life of 12.8 days.

Interpretation

There are very few benign conditions associated with elevated HCG levels e.g. pituitary adenoma.

HCG levels are elevated in pregnancy.