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Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD)

What is gestational trophoblastic disease?

Gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD) is a group of tumors that develop in the early stages of pregnancy. The cells that are responsible for helping the embryo implant on the uterine wall and make up the placenta, trophoblasts, are abnormal and form tumors. These tumors are not typically cancerous. 

There are two forms of GTD: hydatidiform moles (molar pregnancy) and gestational trophoblastic neoplasia (GTN). In the former, there is a problem with the fertilized egg, and a fetus does not form. There are also multiple forms of GTN, but the difference from hydatidiform moles is that there can be a healthy birth. 

What are the symptoms of gestational trophoblastic disease?

Symptoms include:

  • Pain in the pelvic area
  • A mass in the pelvic area
  • Abnormal bleeding or discharge that is unrelated to menstruation
  • Extreme nausea and vomiting
  • An abnormally large uterus

What causes gestational trophoblastic disease?

In those with gestational trophoblastic disease, the trophoblasts are abnormal, causing them to multiply out of control and form a tumor. Risk factors include a history of miscarriages, a previous molar pregnancy, and becoming pregnant when one is over the age of 35. 

How is gestational trophoblastic disease diagnosed?

Doctors will review medical history and conduct a physical examination. They may also perform pap smears, transvaginal ultrasounds, internal pelvic exams, urinalysis, and blood tests. If they discover a tumor that is cancerous, further tests will be necessary. These are chest X-rays, CT scans, and spinal taps. 

What are the treatments for gestational trophoblastic disease?

Treatment depends on a number of variables, such as wanting to become pregnant in the future, type of GTD, overall health, medical history, patient expectations, and tolerance for medications. 

Treatment options are surgery to remove the tumor, radiation, chemotherapy, and a hysterectomy. 

Where can I find out more about gestational trophoblastic disease?

GTD Articles