Blood Tests for Liver Cancer and Liver Disease
Blood tests help doctors at the UPMC Liver Cancer Center determine:
- Your general health
- How well your liver works
- Whether you have been exposed, in the past, to hepatitis B or hepatitis C, and whether the hepatitis is active
A platelet count can detect liver cancer in its early stages.
A white cell count below the normal range can be a sign of an enlarged spleen (splenomegaly) and/or an increase in the blood pressure within the liver’s blood vessels (portal hypertension).
Blood tests — known as blood chemistries — evaluate liver function, specifically:
- Albumin levels
- Blood creatinine levels
- Prothrombin time
- Transaminase levels (ALT, AST, GGTP)
Blood tests for specific tumor "markers" detect the presence of:
- Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)
- Des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin (DCP or PIVKA-2)
DCP and neurotensin are markers (in the presence of a normal AFP) for the fibrolamellar variant of liver cancer, which often occurs in children.