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What Is a "Normal" Tumor Marker Number for Testicular Cancer?

My brother was just diagnosed with testicular cancer, so I'm trying to learn everything I can about the disease. Most of it makes sense, but there's a steep learning curve when it comes to understanding lab reports. What exactly is a "normal" tumor marker number for testicular cancer?

Answer

There are three different tumor markers typically used for testicular cancer:
  
  • Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)
  • Beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (β-hCG)
  • Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH).
 
Typically, normal AFP is defined as less than 40 µg/L for males and nonpregnant females. Β-hCG is usually very low or undetectable in men and nonpregnant women, but the exact cutoff varies depending on the lab. Labs often use a cutoff of less than 2, 5, or 10 IU/L. A typical normal range for LDH is 105-333 IU/L.
 
Keep in mind that these are just "typical" lab ranges for normal values. Each lab, depending on which type of test they use, will have their own range for normal levels for each of these markers. The normal ranges are always included in your lab paperwork for your reference.
 
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