Gestational trophoblastic disease includes several conditions that occur during pregnancy or shortly thereafter. It is a fairly rare cancer that develops in the cells (trophoblasts) that form part of the placenta in a pregnant woman. It is also highly treatable, and most women with the disease will be cured.
The pregnancy that triggers GTD may be a miscarriage, a tubal pregnancy or a full-term pregnancy in which a normal baby is delivered.
Any woman of reproductive age who has metastatic cancer of unknown primary origin should have a pregnancy test to check her HCG levels to rule out (or confirm) GTD.
There are several types of GTD:
Conception takes place, but a normal fetus does not develop. Instead, the placental tissue grows very fast, resulting in a tumor. There are about 3,000 molar pregnancies a year in the United States, or about one in every 1,000 pregnancies. (This condition is also called hydatidiform mole.)
There are two types of molar pregnancy, complete mole, in which no fetus is formed, and partial mole, in which a fetus forms but is abnormal and will not survive.
This type of GTD does not spread outside the uterus to other parts of the body.
Choriocarcinoma may have started from a molar pregnancy or from tissue that remains in the uterus after an abortion, an ectopic pregnancy or the delivery of a baby. This type of GTD can spread from the uterus to other parts of the body.
Placenta-site trophoblastic tumor
This is a very rare type of GTD that starts in the uterus where the placenta was attached.
hCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, is a hormone that increases during pregnancy. It also increases when a woman has GTD.
Metastatic Gestational Trophoblastic Disease Despite treatment, gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD) sometimes reoccurs. It may come back in the uterus or in another part of the body. This is metastatic (recurrent) GTD. Although tumors may appear in distant sites--such as the liver or brain--it is not a new cancer, it is a recurrence of the original cancer. In some cases, the cancer has already metastasized, or spread, by the time a women discovers that she has GTD.
Metastatic GTD can be put into remission with chemotherapy about 85 to 90 percent of the time.
If you have metastatic GTD, SCCA can offer you new medical procedures and treatments, as well as access to clinical trials, that your community doctor may not know about.
No one at SCCA will tell you that a diagnosis of metastatic GTD is not serious, but there is hope, especially if the cancer has not spread to the liver or brain, you have not received prior chemotherapy, your last pregnancy was less than four months ago and your blood levels of HCG are low.