A trophoblastic tumor is a type of tumor that arises from trophoblasts (placental stem cells) and occurs in the placenta of pregnant women.
Trophoblastic tumors can range in severity from very mild to highly malignant and aggressive. While similar to cancer cells in that they invade healthy tissue, the cells in trophoblastic tumors are unique because at some point they do stop this invasion.
Trophoblastic tumors are also known as gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD) and hydatidiform mole or molar pregnancy. Trophoblastic tumors are a type of gestational trophoblastic disease. Some types of tumors that are also considered gestational trophoblastic disease are benign, but trophoblastic tumors are malignant.
Signs & Symptoms
Vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain and continuous vomiting are symptoms of trophoblastic tumors. An elevated level of the hormone HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is also an indicator of a trophoblastic tumor, but this can be a symptom of other things as well, including pregnancy. It is best to see your doctor for a complete and thorough exam and diagnosis
Trophoblastic tumors are very rare. They are seen most often in women of childbearing age, but also occasionally in post-menopausal women. A woman that becomes pregnant at age 20 or below, or at age 50 or above, is at a slightly higher risk of developing a trophoblastic tumor. Blood tests and ultrasound are used to diagnose these tumors. The FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics)staging system is used to classify trophoblastic tumors to determine the best program of treatment.
Treatment of trophoblastic tumors is always necessary. Physicians will generally begin with evacuation of the pregnancy. This usually relieves any immediate symptoms. If the patient is not interested in having children a complete hysterectomy may be performed where the reproductive organs are removed. Some types of trophoblastic tumors can be successfully treated with intravenous methotrexate, a type of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy and radiation are common and successful forms of treatment used.
With proper diagnosis and treatment the prognosis for complete recovery from a trophoblastic tumor is very good. It is recommended that women who undergo treatment wait at least one year before trying to conceive a child. During that year they are observed closely for signs of the tumor recurring. One thing a doctor looks at is a woman’s HCG level. This can be misleading though since elevated HCG levels are also an indicator of pregnancy.