About Gestational Trophoblastic Disease

Gestational trophoblastic disease is an extremely rare type of cancer that develops from abnormal placental tissue. It occurs in 1/1200 pregnancies in the U.S., but occurs more commonly in the Far East where the incidence is 1/120 pregnancies. With this disease, most women believe they are pregnant and have a positive pregnancy test. Placental tissue that is supposed to support the growth of the baby grows too quickly.  Rather than a baby developing, a tumor will develop instead. This is called a molar pregnancy.

Those at greater than average risk of developing a molar pregnancy include:

  • Women who have a history of molar pregnancy.
  • Women at the extremes of reproductive age (<15 and >40)
  • Women from the Far East

A possible symptom is continued vaginal bleeding in a woman with a recent history of hydatidiform mole, abortion or term pregnancy. Additional symptoms that may be associated with this disease include:

  • Irregular vaginal bleeding
  • Cysts on the ovaries
  • Uneven enlargement of the uterus
  • Persistently elevated HCG (pregnancy hormone) levels

Gestational Trophoblastic Disease Screening & Diagnosis

For women with a recent history of this disease, women who have previously had an abortion or women who have been unable to carry a pregnancy to term, a pelvic examination may reveal continued uterine enlargement or a tumor.  Blood tests, a CT scan to detect potential metastatic tumor in any organ or a chest X-ray may be recommended to determine if cancer is present.

Multispecialty Team

NorthShore University HealthSystem physicians and the team at the Kellogg Cancer Center work collaboratively and are dedicated to putting patients and families at the center of a healthcare experience that delivers compassionate, quality care.

Every week, our multidisciplinary team meets to discuss each patient’s case in detail and to design a personalized treatment plan. Your team may include your medical oncologist, surgeon, radiation oncologist, genetics counselor, pathologist, nutritionist, interventional radiologist, and researchers focused on you.  This meeting of the minds provides each individual patient with an individualized care plan to create the path for the most optimal outcome. Our approach emphasizes open communication, collaborating with each other personally and through one of the most advanced electronic medical records systems in the country.

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