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How persistent trophoblastic disease and choriocarcinoma are diagnosed

Persistent trophoblastic disease (PTD) and choriocarcinoma are types of pregnancy related tumours known as gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD for short).

Persistent trophoblastic disease can occur after an abnormal type of pregnancy called a molar pregnancy. Women who have had a molar pregnancy are monitored very closely with blood and urine tests. So if you develop persistent trophoblastic disease it usually shows up on the tests before you notice any symptoms. Your hospital doctor will then ask you to go in to see them.

Choriocarcinoma can occur in the womb after pregnancy, molar pregnancy, a miscarriage or a termination of pregnancy (abortion). It can cause vaginal bleeding. But it can also spread to other parts of the body and the symptoms then depend on which part of the body is affected.

When to see your GP

See your doctor if you notice a change that isn't normal for you or if you feel sick, have abnormal vaginal bleeding or have a swollen abdomen (tummy).

If you have abnormally heavy vaginal bleeding that is dark red or brown go to your local accident and emergency department straight away.

Getting the most out of your GP appointment

When you see the doctor, it can be difficult to remember everything you want to say. These tips will help you get the most out of your appointment.

Tips

  • Write down your symptoms including when they started, when they happen and how often you have them.
  • Write down if anything makes them worse or better.
  • Tell your GP if you are worried about cancer in particular.
  • Tell them if you have any family history of cancer.
  • Take a friend or relative along for support - they could also ask questions and help you remember what the GP says.
  • Ask the GP to explain anything you don’t understand.
  • Ask the GP to write things down for you if you think it might help.

What happens during your GP appointment

Your doctor needs to build up a picture of what's going on. So they will ask you some questions. These include:

  • what symptoms you have
  • when you get them
  • whether anything makes them better or worse

They will ask you about your general health and any other medical conditions you have. 

During the appointment your doctor may want to examine you. You can ask for someone else to be in the room if you want, to act as a chaperone. This chaperone can be a friend or relative, or a trained health professional such as a practice nurse. They can be with you during the examination or throughout the appointment. 

If you would rather see a male or a female doctor it is worth asking when you book the appointment. 

Tests your GP might do

Depending on your symptoms your GP might do a general examination. They will feel for any areas that might be swollen or might not feel normal. And if you have any pain they will feel those areas. It might feel tender, or it might be possible to feel a lump. They also listen to your chest, to find out if it sounds normal, for example they can listen for signs of fluid collecting.

After your examination, your doctor might need to refer you to hospital for tests and x-rays. Or they might refer you directly to a specialist. 

What happens next

Make sure you know what happens next. Make another appointment if your symptoms don’t clear up, or if they change or get worse.

Tests

Find out about the tests you might have.

Information and help