Alpha-fetoprotein-producing non-germ cell tumours of the female genital tract

Eur J Cancer. 2010 May;46(8):1317-22. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2010.01.028. Epub 2010 Feb 23.


Elevated levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), a foetal serum protein, occur mainly on the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or germ cell tumours, including yolk sac tumour (YST) and embryonal carcinoma of the ovary. Rarely, other tumours of the female genital tract produce AFP. This article reviews the AFP-producing non-germ cell tumours reported in different parts of the female genital tract to date. These include different types of carcinomas and carcinosarcomas of the uterus, ovary and cervix and sex cord stromal tumours of the ovary. It is important for both pathologists and oncologists to be aware of such cases and the clinicopathological distinction from germ cell tumours, as the diagnosis would affect the management plan for the patient. The reviewed cases suggest that regardless of the patient's age when no lesion is detected in the liver and stomach of a woman whose serum AFP level is abnormally high, the female reproductive system should be examined as a possible site of AFP-producing tumour. Biochemical, physiological and pathological features of AFP are briefly presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma / metabolism*
  • Carcinosarcoma / diagnosis
  • Carcinosarcoma / metabolism*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / diagnosis
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Sex Cord-Gonadal Stromal Tumors / diagnosis
  • Sex Cord-Gonadal Stromal Tumors / metabolism*
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / metabolism*


  • alpha-Fetoproteins