Trophoblastic Cancer

Trophoblastic cancer is a rare disease that starts during pregnancy. It is popularly called as gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD). These rare tumors appear when growth of cells inside the womb becomes out of control. The cells responsible for formation of gestational trophoblastic tumors are known as trophoblasts and they come from tissue that develops to shape the placenta during pregnancy.

Trophoblastic tumors are of five types:

  • Hydatidiform mole
  • Invasive mole
  • Choriocarcinoma
  • Placental site trophoblastic tumor
  • Epithelioid trophoblastic tumor

Out of these five types of tumors the first one, Hydatidiform mole is benign and the rest four are malignant tumors.

Signs and symptoms:

Trophoblastic cancer may not show any signs or symptoms at initial stage because it is assumed to be a normal pregnancy. You may notice following symptoms after few days:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Discontinuation of baby’s movement during pregnancy
  • Unexpected enlargement of the uterus at a particular time during pregnancy
  • High blood pressure at an early stage of the pregnancy


Trophoblastic cancer is curable and early diagnosis helps a lot in this regard. The trophoblastic tumor can be removed by surgery. To stop the growth of cancerous cells doctors may advice for chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The treatment option depends on the stage of the GTD.

Causes of Trophoblastic Cancer:

A fetus is formed when both the sperm and egg cells each offer a set of 23 chromosomes to form a cell containing 46 chromosomes. This cell divides and, in due course, forms a fetus. But, this normal process does not happen if you are suffering from trophoblastic cancer or gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD).

In case of complete hydatidiform moles, an abnormal egg cell, that has no nucleus, is fertilized by a sperm cell. Why that egg cell does not contain any nucleus is not yet known. After getting fertilized, the chromosomes from the sperms makes replica of themselves. Here, instead of formation of a fetus, a hydatidiform mole grows up.

If tissues are left in the uterus after a miscarriage, a planned abortion, or the birth of a baby, GTD or trophoblastic cancer may occur.

Tests and Procedures

For a proper diagnosis of trophoblstic cancer, your doctor may suggest you for

Pelvic examination:

It includes feeling the uterus, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, and rectum to confirm for lumps or any abnormal changes.


An ultrasound baton is inserted into the vagina and moved towards the uterus to obtain pictures of the suspected area.

Beta human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) blood test:

Pregnant women generate high levels of the hormone beta HCG in their blood. High levels of beta HCG in a non-pregnant woman indicate that GTD or trophoblastic cancer may be present.

Imaging tests such as x-rays and CT scans also done to get clear picture of inside areas of the uterus.

Treatment Cost:

You may have to spend approximately $15,000 to cure trophoblastic cancer. However, the expenses depend on the stage of the disease and the treatment method adopted.

Preventive Measures:

Not getting pregnant is the best way to prevent trophoblastic cancer. But, the disease is very rare and preventing it may affect your family planning. However, if you have any history of molar pregnancy, discuss with your doctor for future risks.

Side Effects of treatment:

The treatment of trophoblastic cancer may have an effect on a woman’s fertility and sexual function. It is advised to discuss with your doctor before the treatment begins. Apart from this, a patient may experience following side effects after various treatment methods:

  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Loss of desire for food
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Low resistance to infections
  • Bruising or bleeding easily

Doctors can help better to handle the above temporary side effects.

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