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hCG is produced in the placenta during pregnancy. In nonpregnant individuals, it can also be produced by tumors of the trophoblast, germ cell tumors with trophoblastic components, and some non-trophoblastic tumors. The biological action of hCG serves to maintain the corpus luteum during pregnancy. It also influences steroid production. The serum in pregnant individuals contains mainly intact hCG. Measurement of the hCG concentration permits the diagnosis of pregnancy as early as 1 week after conception.
First morning urine sample preferred.