Human Chorionic Gonadotropin test: A highly accurate urine test that measures a hormone that increases in pregnant women and people with cancer- both growing “something other than themselves” inside them.

Human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG, can be checked through both the urine and blood. Lab tests to check HCG levels are typically run to verify pregnancy. Yet the presence of HCG in the body can also be a marker for certain types of malignant tumors, according to the American Cancer Society. A positive HCG test can be indicative of several cancers including certain sex-specific forms of the disease.

Elevated levels of the hormone HCG, whether in regard to pregnancy or not, inform you that “something besides you is growing in you”. When there is no chance of pregnancy, it can be a very important tool that can alert us to a current disease state.  

Ovarian and testicular cancers are examples of cancers that may produce HCG, according to the American Cancer Society. Checking HCG levels not only aids in diagnosis but can also be used to evaluate the efficacy of treatment of these malignancies. HCG tests are also used to assist in the diagnosis of choriocarcinoma, a rare form of cancer in women.

A positive HCG test outside of pregnancy can also be a sign of other cancers that affect both sexes. A case study published in the journal “Lung Cancer” in September 2008 told the story of a young woman who’d received a positive pregnancy test. The patient had worsening symptoms associated with pneumonia, however, and it was only later discovered that she had HCG-secreting lung tumors. HCG levels were also found to be a strong indicator in determining pancreatic cancer prognoses, according to a 2004 study in the journal “Oncology.” The Stanford Medicine Cancer Center reports that HCG may also be a marker of stomach and liver cancers as well.