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What is gestational trophoblastic disease?
Gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD) is a rare condition where abnormal trophoblastic cells form in the uterus after conception, causing tumors to grow. These abnormalities form in the cells that usually make up the placenta, which connects the growing fetus to the uterus.
GTD tumors may be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign) and many are treatable. Some women with GTD can still go on to have children and healthy pregnancies after treatment.
What are the types of gestational trophoblastic disease?
GTD tumors are grouped into two types: hydatidiform moles and gestational trophoblastic neoplasia.
Hydatidiform moles (HMs) are generally noncancerous, but some forms can be precancerous. HMs are much more common than gestational trophoblastic neoplasia (GTN). HMs are slow-growing tumors that are sometimes called a molar pregnancy. Types of HMs include:
- Complete hydatidiform moles (complete HM)
- Partial hydatidiform moles (partial HM)
Gestational trophoblastic neoplasia (GTN) tumors are almost always cancerous. Types of GTN include:
- Placental-site trophoblastic tumors (PSTT)
- Epithelioid trophoblastic tumors (ETT)
What are the risk factors for gestational trophoblastic disease?
Risk factors for gestational trophoblastic disease can include:
- Being pregnant before age 20 or after age 35.
- Having an ovarian cyst larger than six centimeters.
- Having a high level of beta human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone the body produces during pregnancy.
- Having an overactive thyroid gland.
- Having high blood pressure during pregnancy.
- Prior molar pregnancies or hydatidiform moles.
- Prior miscarriages.
What can you do to prevent gestational trophoblastic disease?
Because the risk factors for GTD are uncontrollable, the only way to prevent the disease is by not getting pregnant. However, it’s important to remember that GTD is very rare and shouldn’t interfere with your decision to have a family.
If you have had prior molar pregnancies or miscarriages, talk with your doctor about the risk of developing GTD and whether there is anything you can do to lower your risk.
Is gestational trophoblastic disease screening available?
There is no standard screening for GTD; most cases are found during routine prenatal check-ups or when a pregnant woman notices worrying signs or symptoms, such as vaginal bleeding.