What Causes Elevated hCG Levels after Hysterectomy?

Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone that is often associated with pregnancy. It’s produced by the placenta and can be detected soon after conception and implantation of a fertilized egg. Pregnancy, however, is not the only reason for the presence of hCG, and it can be produced by tissue other than the placenta. Because you’ve had a hysterectomy, it’s obvious there must be causes other than pregnancy. But what are they?

Besides normal pregnancy, there are several other reasons for the presence of hCG when there is a uterus. It can indicate an ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy, miscarriage, or uterine choriocarcinoma, a type of gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD). When there’s no uterus, it’s a bit more complicated.

Interfering antibodies, hormonal changes, using hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and lab errors may all cause you to have a positive hCG test. Smoking tobacco and using marijuana can increase hCG levels, too. There are also several medications that can affect test results. They include:

  • heparin
  • diuretics
  • promethazine
  • anti-seizure drugs
  • some anti-nausea medications
  • hypnotics
  • antipsychotics

If it’s confirmed that there is hCG present, you and your doctor will need to start exploring the cause. While there are benign causes, cancer could be another reason for detection. Possible causes for an elevated result include:

  • liver disease
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • duodenal ulcers
  • pituitary gland issues
  • tumors
  • ovarian cancer
  • stomach cancer
  • pancreatic cancer
  • lung cancer
  • breast cancer
  • kidney cancer
  • brain cancer

Before you panic, remember that you could have a false-positive test result. Unfortunately, false-positive test results are common enough that even the FDA has published an article addressing this topic. If you are post-menopausal, you also have a greater chance of an incidental positive hCG test result.

Your doctor should order a re-test before any diagnosis or decisions are made. Neither of you should jump to conclusions or race to treat a non-existent condition or cancer based solely on one test result that doesn’t match your clinical presentation.

This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.  Reprinted with permission: What Causes Elevated hCG Levels after Hysterectomy?

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