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About chemotherapy for persistent trophoblastic disease and choriocarcinoma

Men and women discussing gestational trophoblastic tumours

This page tells you about chemotherapy to treat persistent trophoblastic disease and choriocarcinoma, which are types of gestational trophoblastic tumour (GTT). There is information about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

About chemotherapy for persistent disease and choriocarcinoma

Persistent trophoblastic disease (PTD) and choriocarcinoma are types of pregnancy related tumours called gestational trophoblastic tumours (GTT for short). Chemotherapy uses anti cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy tumour cells.

When you might need chemotherapy

Persistent trophoblastic disease occurs in some women after an abnormal type of pregnancy called a molar pregnancy. If surgery has not removed all the abnormal molar tissue the level of a hormone called hCG will stay high in your blood and urine.

If your hCG level does not return to normal, or if there is evidence of choriocarcinoma in the tissue sample taken during your surgery, you will need tests to find out whether the disease has spread beyond the womb. Knowing whether the abnormal cells have spread helps your doctors to decide which chemotherapy treatment you need – low or high risk treatment.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating persistent trophoblastic disease and choriocarcinoma section.

 

Chemotherapy and GTT

Persistent trophoblastic disease and choriocarcinoma are types of gestational trophoblastic tumour (GTT for short).

Chemotherapy uses anti cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy tumour cells. They work by disrupting their growth. Chemotherapy circulates in the bloodstream around the body.

 

When you might need chemotherapy

Persistent trophoblastic disease (PTD) can sometimes occur after an abnormal type of pregnancy called a molar pregnancy. Choriocarcinoma can occur after a normal pregnancy, a molar pregnancy, a miscarriage or a termination of pregnancy (an abortion). They are types of pregnancy related tumours called gestational trophoblastic tumours (GTT for short). Chemotherapy uses anti cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy tumour cells and works very well for these types of tumour.

Most women who have a molar pregnancy only need to have a small operation (D and C). After surgery your body can usually get rid of any remaining molar tissue on its own. But in some women some molar tissue may remain. You will need follow up tests to make sure you have no signs of the molar tissue left in your body.

Follow up means keeping a very close eye on your blood and urine hCG levels. You will need further tests to help stage your disease if your tests show that:

  • your hCG level stays the same on 4 measurements over a period of 3 weeks or longer
  • your hCG goes up on 2 measurements in a row, over a period of at least 2 weeks
  • your hCG level is more than 20,000 IU/L (international units per litre) at more than 4 weeks after surgery
  • there is evidence of choriocarcinoma in the tissue sample taken during removal of a molar pregnancy
  • you have very heavy vaginal bleeding and or severe abdominal (tummy) pain

The stage of the disease also helps your doctors decide which chemotherapy treatment you will need – low or high risk treatment. 

There is information about the chemotherapy drugs used for GTT in this section. And there is general information about chemotherapy treatment in the treatment section.

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Updated: 23 June 2016