Synonyms:   Beta Subunit, hCG; hCG, Beta Subunit, Qual, Serum; Pregnancy Test, Serum

Why It Is Done

• Determine whether you are pregnant.
• Detect an ectopic pregnancy.
• Detect and monitor the treatment of a molar pregnancy.
• Determine whether chromosome abnormalities, such as Down syndrome, are present.
• Detect and monitor the treatment of a cancer that develops from an egg or sperm (germ cell cancer)

Test Overview

The human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) test is done to measure the amount of the hormone hCG in blood or urine to determine whether a woman is pregnant. HCG is produced by the placenta during pregnancy.  Once the fertilized egg implants, the developing placenta begins releasing hCG into your blood. Some hCG also gets passed in your urine. HCG can be detected in the blood before the first missed menstrual period, as early as six days after implantation.

HCG may also be produced abnormally by certain tumors, especially those that develop from an egg or sperm (germ cell tumors). Therefore, hCG levels are usually tested in a woman who may have cancer of the ovaries or abnormal tissue growing in her uterus (molar pregnancy) instead of a normal fetus. In a man, hCG levels may be measured to help determine whether he has cancer of the testicles.

How To Prepare

No special preparation is necessary.