An Introduction to Trophoblast Disease

Trophoblast disease forms a spectrum of illnesses that are rare, almost always highly curable but not always well understood by non-specialists. Most patients will not have heard of molar pregnancies, trophoblasts or choriocarcinoma, prior to their diagnosis, and finding reliable advice on the internet can be challenging.

In this section we give a brief introduction to the various types of Trophoblast Disease that are covered in the information section for patients and the more details section for medical staff.

The types of trophoblast disease range from the usually benign partial molar pregnancy through complete molar pregnancy and invasive mole to the malignant choriocarcinoma and placental site trophoblast tumours. All of these illnesses share the characteristic that they arise from a pregnancy.

In a molar pregnancy at the time of conception, the fertilised cell becomes abnormal immediately as a result of an imbalance in the number of chromosomes supplied from the mother and the father.

The molar pregnancy cells that result can grow quickly, produce hCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin)and so give a positive pregnancy test but are unable to form a proper embryo. Most molar pregnancies are diagnosed relatively early on in pregnancy and treatment by evacuation is sufficient in about 4 out of 5 cases to be curative.

The patients who require further treatment after their surgery, generally need chemotherapy which is curative for nearly all patients and has much less side-effects than most people expect.

There is much more information on molar pregnancies looking at how they happen, how they are diagnosed, the initial treatment, the UK follow up service and the details of the chemotherapy treatment for those that need it in the information pages for patients and medical staff.

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