Persistent trophoblastic disease and choriocarcinomas belong to a group of pregnancy related tumours known as gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD).
Persistent trophoblastic disease occurs in some women after an abnormal pregnancy called a molar pregnancy.
Choriocarcinoma can occur after a normal pregnancy, a molar pregnancy, a miscarriage or a termination of pregnancy (an abortion).
What is screening?
Screening means testing people for early stages of a disease before they have any symptoms. For screening to be useful the tests:
- need to be reliable at picking up cancers
- overall must do more good than harm to people taking part
- must be something that people are willing to do
Screening tests are not perfect and have some risks. The screening programme should also be good value for money for the NHS.
Checking for GTD
If you have had a molar pregnancy, you will be under the care of a specialist hospital. You have regular urine tests and blood tests to measure the levels of a hormone called human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). These tests pick up persistent trophoblastic disease, usually before you notice any symptoms.
After a miscarriage or abortion, doctors often check the foetus and placenta for any abnormalities and this can pick up signs of molar pregnancy.
Specialist centres for GTD
In the UK there are 3 specialist hospitals for women with gestational trophoblastic disease. All women diagnosed with any type of GTD are registered at one of these centres for follow up. The centres are at
- Charing Cross Hospital in London
- Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield
- Ninewells Hospital in Dundee
Weston Park Hospital and Charing Cross Hospital are also treatment centres for women who need chemotherapy for persistent trophoblastic disease or choriocarcinoma.