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Gestational Trophoblastic Disease

Gestational trophoblastic tumor is a disease in which cancer cells grow in tissues that are formed following conception of a baby. The two main types of gestational trophoblastic tumors are hydatidiform mole and choriocarcinoma. Gestational trophoblastic tumor may look like a normal pregnancy in the early stages.

In hydatidiform mole, also called a molar pregnancy, the sperm and egg cells have joined without the development of a baby in the uterus. The tissue formed resembles grape-like cysts.

Choriocarcinoma may start from a hydatidiform mole or from tissue that remains in the uterus following an abortion or delivery of a baby. Choriocarcinoma can spread from the uterus to other parts of the body.

Treatment Options for Gestational Trophoblastic Disease

Two kinds of standard treatment are used to treat gestational trophoblastic tumor: surgery and chemotherapy. Radiation therapy may be used in certain cases to treat cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.

Surgery for Gestational Trophoblastic Disease

Surgery to remove the cancer may involve one of the following operations:

  • For molar pregnancies, dilation and curettage (D&C) with suction evacuation stretches the opening of the uterus and removes the material inside with a small vacuum-like device. The walls of the uterus are then scraped gently to remove any materials that remain.
  • Hysterectomy is the usual treatment for choriocarcinoma. The ovaries usually are not removed in the treatment of this disease.

Radiation Therapy for Gestational Trophoblastic Disease

Even if the surgeon removes all the cancer visible at the time of surgery, some patients may be given additional treatment via chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.