HCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin) is a hormone secreted in pregnancy that is made by the developing embryo soon after conception and later by the syncytiotrophoblast (part of the placenta) to maintain the fetal viability preventing the disintegration of the corpus luteum of the ovary and thereby maintaining progesterone production that is critical for a pregnancy in humans; it also affects the immune tolerance of the pregnancy.
HCG is excreted in the urine of pregnant women. Detection of this hormone in urine or serum is an easy first method of diagnosis of pregnancy. The hormone can be detected as early as the sixth day after conception. hCG is also an important tumor marker because it is produced by some kinds of tumor, such as: seminoma, choriocarcinoma, germ cell tumors, hydatidiform mole formation, teratoma with elements of choriocarcinoma, and pregnancy detection kits containing a strip or card impregnated with anti-hCG globulin are readily available. The test is executed by immersing the proper end of the strip in urine or sprinkling three drops of urine on the indicated site of a card. The result is readable within two to three minutes.
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