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​Gestational Trophoblastic Tumor

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What is a Gestational Trophoblastic Tumor?

A gestational trophoblastic tumor is a rare disease in which cancer cells grow in the tissues that are formed in the uterus after fertilization.

A gestational trophoblastic tumor begins in the uterus after the meeting of sperm and egg, but the product of conception is not capable of developing into a fetus.

Types of Gestational Trophoblastic Tumors

The following represent the most common types of this gynecologic cancer.

Choriocarcinoma

  • A cancerous tumor that develops from the cells that help an embryo attach to the lining of the uterus.
  • This type of tumor grows quickly and can spread to other tissues of the body — especially the lungs — through the bloodstream.
  • It usually occurs after fertilization. In rare cases, it can occur on its own in an ovary.

Molar pregnancy

  • Also called a hydatidiform mole, this cancer grows from the cells that help an embryo attach to the lining of the uterus.
  • This slow-growing tumor is usually noncancerous (benign), but it can sometimes behave like cancer (invasive mole), or develop into a choriocarcinoma.
  • A molar pregnancy occurs after fertilization and often resembles a normal pregnancy, at first. Some deformed embryonic tissue may be present.

Placental-site trophoblastic disease

  • This type of cancerous tumor begins in the uterus at the site where the placenta was attached to the uterine lining.
  • It's an extremely rare form of gestational trophoblastic tumor.

Who's at Risk for Gestational Trophoblastic Tumors?

Certain factors may increase your risk of developing a gestational trophoblastic tumor, including:

  • Age over 35
  • Previous history of molar pregnancy
  • Southeast Asian ethnicity

Learn more about gynecologic cancer prevention and screening.

Symptoms of Gestational Trophoblastic Tumors

Symptoms of a gestational trophoblastic tumor may include:

Testing for and Diagnosing Gestational Trophoblastic Tumors

Specialists at the Magee-Womens Gynecologic Cancer Program use a variety of tests to diagnose and screen for gestational trophoblastic tumors, including:

Gestational Trophoblastic Tumor Treatment at the Magee-Womens Gynecologic Cancer Program

If you're diagnosed with a gestational trophoblastic tumor, your treatment will depend on the following factors:

  • Your age
  • Your desire to have children
  • The size of your tumor
  • The stage of your cancer
  • Other medical conditions

Your doctors and other specialists at the Magee-Womens Gynecologic Cancer Program will work with you to consider your options and determine a course of action.

Treatment Options for Gestational Trophoblastic Tumors

Surgery is often the recommended treatment for gestational trophoblastic tumors.

In selective circumstances, we may recommend chemotherapy — before (neo adjuvant) or after (adjuvant) surgery — to control an aggressive cancer or to reduce the risk of recurrence.

The use of chemotherapy treatment depends on:

  • Your age
  • The stage of your gynecologic cancer

We may also use radiation therapy to treat a gestational trophoblastic tumor.

Comprehensive Gynecologic Cancer Care

As a patient of the Gynecologic Cancer Program, you have access to additional treatment options and services, including:

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