hCG in pregnancy

Human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) is a hormone secreted from the placenta, passes into the maternal circulation and is significant in the maintenance of a viable pregnancy. The serum concentration of hCG is used for the detection and monitoring of pregnancy as well as some malignant conditions. Using routine laboratory methods, hCG is first detectable in the circulation 1 to 2 weeks after conception (equivalent to the 1st week after implantation or about 3 - 4 weeks after LMP). Higher levels may be found in patients with twin or multiple pregnancies, or with gestational trophoblastic disease. Elevated concentrations of hCG are commonly found in the serum of patients with trophoblastic or other germ cell tumours and are a valuable marker for monitoring these conditions. Other malignancies which may also be associated with increased hCG include lung, breast, gastrointestinal and ovarian cancers.

Elevated serum hCG may also be found in some non-malignant disorders including inflammatory bowel disease, cirrhosis and duodenal ulcer.


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