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Gestational Trophoblastic Cancer

What are Gestational Trophoblastic Tumors?

A gestational trophoblastic tumor is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the tissues that are formed following the joining of sperm and egg. Gestational trophoblastic tumors start inside the uterus, the hollow, muscular, pear-shaped organ where a baby grows. Gestational trophoblastic tumors occurs in women during the years when they are able to have children.

Gestational trophoblastic tumor is a rare cancer in women. There are two types: hydatidiform mole and choriocarcinoma.

Hydatidiform mole

Hydatidiform mole is the most common form of gestational trophoblastic tumors. When a patient has a hydatidiform mole, the sperm and egg cells have joined without the development of a baby in the uterus. Instead, the tissue that is formed resembles grape-like cysts. Hydatidiform mole does not spread outside of the uterus to other parts of the body.

Hydatidiform mole is also called a molar pregnancy.


Choriocarcinoma is a malignant form of gestational trophoblastic tumors. Choriocarcinoma often develops from a complete hydatidiform mole. However, Choriocarcinoma can occur after a normal pregnancy or an abortion. Choriocarcinoma is more likely to spread to organs away from the uterus.

How is a Gestational Trophoblastic Tumor diagnosed?

Gestational trophoblastic tumors are often difficult to find. In its early stages, it may look like a normal pregnancy. The most common symptom is vaginal bleeding and if a woman is pregnant and the baby hasn’t moved at the expected time.

If symptoms are present, a doctor may use several tests to see if the patient has a gestational trophoblastic tumor. The most common tests used are: A pelvic examination, an ultrasound, and a blood test.

Can Gestational trophoblastic Tumors be Treated?

Yes. Treatments will depend on the stage of the tumor. Some common treatments are: chemotherapy, surgery to remove the tumor, and radiation.


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