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IHC Test (ImmunoHistoChemistry): Purpose, Procedure and Cost



Immunohistochemistry (IHC) is a special staining process or test to detect specific molecules on the cell surface. 

Purpose of The IHC Test 

The Immunohistochemistry test is used to diagnose cancer by detecting a specific type of antibody attached to the antigen on the cell surface. The purpose of the special staining technique is to detect molecules which are usually markers specifying whether the cancer is benign or malignant. Hence, IHC meaning and its application are predominantly found in diagnosing cancer. 

Customers Profile for The Test 

The IHC test is recommended by doctors in the following cases or suits the below customer profiles:

  • Doctors prescribe the Immunohistochemistry test to suspect the patient has either cancer or a tumour in some body part. 
  • The test helps in identifying the stage and the grade of the tumour. Also, the test is crucial in the identification of the cell type as well as the level of metastasis. 
  • The IHC test for cancer helps detect many types of cancer, like adenocarcinomas and colon, breast and prostate cancer. It even helps in detecting lymphomas and skin cancer. 
  • The IHC helps predict response to treatment in two forms of tumours: prostate and breast carcinoma. 

Applications or Use Cases 

Immunohistochemistry is an important application or technique widely used for diagnosing cancer by detecting the presence of specific tumour antigens. One of the prominent use cases of the specialised staining technique is detecting the presence of markers on cells that might lead to cancerous growth. IHC has a role in the following:

  1. Predict prognostic markers in cancer
  2. Investigate tumors of uncertain histogenesis
  3. Predicts response to therapy
  4. Confirm infectious agents in tissues
  5. Determine the function of specific gene products
  6. Subclassification and diagnosis of neurodegenerative disorders
  7. Detect axonal injury or brain trauma
  8. Specific diagnosis of muscular dystrophy

IHC Test Price

The IHC test cost depends on the type of test done as well as the location of conducting the test. The average price range of the test starts from Rs 6500 and might go up to Rs 8500 or even higher. The price varies depending on the city, the quality of the test, and availability. 

Procedure for The Immunohistochemistry Test

Collection of tissue: The first step for conducting the IHC test is tissue processing, fixation, and sectioning. The technician or pathologist collects the tissue samples for the biopsy process in a non-breakable, sterilized plastic container. 

Tissue fixation is followed by tissue fixation, which helps preserve the antigens. Embedding tissue provides the necessary support during the sectioning process. Paraffin embedding is the most common process for preparing the tissue sections. Sample fixation helps tissue processing and prevents the degradation of antigens, cells, and tissues. 

Checking for reference range 

During this procedure, once the sample is checked and identified for markers with the help of a dye or staining agent, check for a reference range to find out whether the test is negative or positive. 

  • A negative test means that the laboratory did not find any changes in the protein or any marker on the cell. This means that either the person is not affected by the disease, is not a carrier of a specific genetic mutation, or does not increase the risk of developing cancer or related disease. 
  • A positive test means that a marker or receptor is found on the cell during the biopsy or indicates a certain change in the protein of the tumour. The positive result indicates that the person might have inherited a genetic condition. 


The immunohistochemistry technique helps detect markers or receptors on cells that indicate the presence of cancerous or tumour growth. The test is quite affordable and makes use of monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies for detecting the presence of specific antigens. As the IHC test involves antigen-antibody reactions, it helps provide more accurate results than other clinical diagnostics. 

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