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Des-Gamma Carboxyprothrombin Blood Test

Last updated Oct. 11, 2015


What are the other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • DCP Blood Test
  • Protein Induced by Vitamin K Absence/Antagonist-II Blood Test
  • PIVKA-II Blood Test 

What is Des-Gamma Carboxyprothrombin Blood Test? (Background Information)

  • Des-gamma carboxyprothrombin (DCP) is an abnormal form of the clotting factor prothrombin. DCP is often produced during liver cancer, which makes it a useful marker for liver cancer
  • Prothrombin is the inactive form of thrombin, an enzyme that forms blood clots. Thrombin does this by converting a soluble protein, called fibrinogen, to its insoluble form, fibrin; fibrin, then coalesce to form a blood clot
  • Normally, prothrombin is converted to thrombin, after it fastens on to a damaged vessel wall. Prothrombin is chemically-modified beforehand, to enhance its binding ability
  • DCP, an abnormal form of prothrombin, has not been chemically-modified in this manner and cannot bind to vessel walls. This impairs its ability to activate the coagulation cascade
  • The Des-Gamma Carboxyprothrombin Blood Test is a test to detect the presence of DCP in blood. It is used to diagnose and monitor liver cancers, such as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) 

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Des-Gamma Carboxyprothrombin Blood Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing a Des-Gamma Carboxyprothrombin Blood Test:

  • Monitoring treatment for liver cancer
  • Yellow skin
  • Easy bruising
  • Significant weight loss
  • Pain in the upper-right abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 

How is the Specimen Collected for Des-Gamma Carboxyprothrombin Blood Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Des-Gamma Carboxyprothrombin Blood Test:

Sample required: Blood

Process: Insertion of a needle into an arm vein.

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test. 

What is the Significance of the Des-Gamma Carboxyprothrombin Blood Test Result?

  • In most cases, the presence of Des-Gamma Carboxyprothrombin in blood, may indicate liver cancer 

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario. 

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

  • The presence of Des-Gamma Carboxyprothrombin (DCP) is associated with liver cancer at a rate of 91%. However, this also means that it is possible for DCP to be present, without the presence of liver cancer. Hence, it is important to interpret this lab test, with other tests ordered by your healthcare provider
  • The DCP Blood Test is often performed alongside AFP tumor markers blood test to provide a more accurate diagnosis for liver cancer
  • Certain factors may interfere with the results of this test. These include vitamin K deficiency and anticoagulant therapy 

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider, the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis. 

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

DoveMed is currently working to bring you additional resources.

Please sign up by creating a DoveMed account to receive periodic notification on information updates. 

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Kumar, V., Abbas, A. K., Aster, J. C., & Robbins, S. L. (2013). Robbins basic pathology (9th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier/Saunders.

Lab Tests Online (2013, July 25). Retrieved July 30, 2014 from http://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/dcp/

Liebman, H. A. (1984). Des-gamma-carboxy (abnormal) prothrombin as a serum marker of primary hepatocellular carcinoma. The New England Journal of Medicine310(22), 1427-31.

Martini, F., Nath, J. L., & Bartholomew, E. F. (2012). Fundamentals of anatomy & physiology (9th ed.). San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings.

Mayo Clinic. (2013, July 24). Liver cancer. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Aug. 4, 2014
Last updated: Oct. 11, 2015