Pathology Handbook

HCG (tumour marker)


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

Request Form 

Request on ICE


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





1 ml


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.


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

HCG levels are elevated in pregnancy.