Tests and scans for invasive mole and choriocarcinoma

Your GP or specialist might arrange for you to have a number of tests if they think you have an invasive mole or choriocarcinoma. These include:

  • blood and urine tests
  • ultrasound scan
  • chest x-ray
  • CT scan
  • MRI scan

Blood and urine tests

During pregnancy, the placenta produces a hormone called human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). The placenta releases hCG into your bloodstream and you pass the rest in your urine. hCG isn’t normally found in the blood or urine of women who aren’t pregnant.

hCG is also produced by gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD), usually at much higher levels than in a normal pregnancy. So hCG is measured in your blood and urine to:

  • help diagnose an invasive mole or choriocarcinoma 
  • check how well treatment is working 
  • pick up gestational trophoblastic disease that has come back after treatment.

You might have other blood tests to check:

  • your general health, including how well your liver and kidneys are working
  • the levels of blood cells in your body

Abdominal ultrasound scan

Ultrasound scans use high frequency sound waves to create a picture of a part of the body. An abdominal ultrasound scan shows up blood flow and changes in your tummy (abdomen), including abnormal growths.

An ultrasound scan can help diagnose many women with an invasive mole or choriocarcinoma.

Transvaginal ultrasound scan

A transvaginal ultrasound scan is an internal scan. The doctor inserts a slim ultrasound probe into your vagina to get a more detailed picture. This doesn’t hurt but it may feel slightly uncomfortable as they move the probe around. 

A transvaginal ultrasound can show any abnormal tissue in your womb, ovaries and surrounding areas.

Chest x-ray

An x-ray is a test that uses small amounts (doses) of radiation to take pictures of the inside of your body. They are a good way to look at bones and can show changes caused by cancer or other medical conditions. X-rays can also show changes in other organs, such as the lungs.

You might have a chest x-ray to check for any spread to your lungs. This is the most common place for invasive mole or choriocarcinoma to spread to.

CT or MRI scan

A CT scan is a test that uses x-rays and a computer to create detailed pictures of the inside of your body. It takes pictures from different angles. The computer puts them together to make a 3 dimensional (3D) image.  

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. It uses magnetism and radio waves to create cross section pictures of the body. It shows up soft tissues very clearly.

If you have choriocarcinoma, or your doctors think you have it, you might need to have a CT scan. You might also have a CT scan of your chest if your x-ray shows you have disease in your lungs. 

Very rarely, invasive mole and choriocarcinoma can spread to the brain. You might have a CT scan or MRI scan of your head to check for this.

Related links