Choriocarcinoma is a rapidly growing cancer that develops in the uterus of women. It is a rare type of cancer in which abnormal cells starts to grow in the cells that remain after pregnancy. Choriocarcinoma is one of the forms of gestational trophoblastic disease. In most cases, it is a curable disease. However, it can metastasize to other body parts.
The blog discusses choriocarcinoma, its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment options.
What is Choriocarcinoma?
It is rare cancer that develops in a woman’s uterus. It is a fast-progressing cancer that is one of the types of gestational trophoblastic disease. The cancerous tumors form after a normal pregnancy, abortion, molar pregnancy, or miscarriage. It can develop several years after pregnancy.
As it multiplies rapidly, it can spread to other body parts, such as the lungs, liver, brain, kidney, and bowel. It mainly affects women. However, in extremely rare cases, men also develop choriocarcinoma in the testicles, known as nongestational choriocarcinoma.
What are the Causes of Choriocarcinoma?
When the cells, once a part of the placenta during pregnancy, become cancerous, it is known as choriocarcinoma. It can occur after a miscarriage, abortion, ectopic pregnancy, or molar pregnancy. It can also develop at the beginning of the pregnancy. Nearly one-half of choriocarcinoma patients suffered a molar pregnancy.
What are the Symptoms of Choriocarcinoma?
The American Cancer Society mentions that choriocarcinoma does not always show symptoms. However, you may experience:
- Irregular bleeding from the vagina
- Extreme pain due to vaginal bleeding or enlargement of ovaries
- Infection that may result in vaginal discharge, pelvic cramps, and fever
- Inflammation in the abdominal area
However, if cancer has metastasized to other body parts, you may suffer from the following:
- Dry cough
- Difficulty breathing
- Coughing blood
- Chest pain
When to Seek Medical Help?
If you experience any symptoms after pregnancy, immediately seek medical attention.
How do Doctors Diagnose Choriocarcinoma?
If your pregnancy test shows a positive result, but the scan does not show any fetus, the doctor may suggest the following tests:
- Pelvic exam to check for enlargement, lumps, or unusual changes in the uterus and ovaries
- Blood tests check for high levels of hCG hormones, which may be high during cancer. These tests may include quantitive serum hCG, complete blood count, kidney function tests, liver function tests
- Imagining tests such as CT scan, MRI, pelvic ultrasound, and chest x-ray to check for any abnormalities.
- Urine tests
- Spinal tap if the doctor suspects the tumor has spread to other body parts
What are the Various Treatment Options for Choriocarcinoma?
If you are diagnosed with choriocarcinoma, your doctor may determine the treatment plan based on the stage of cancer, the tumor size, and if the tumor has metastasized to other body parts. The following are various treatment options for choriocarcinoma:
- Chemotherapy is the primary treatment if the tumor is small and has not spread to other body parts. Your doctor will administer chemotherapy until the cancer is eliminated.
- If the tumor is considered high-risk, your doctor may perform surgery, administer chemotherapy, and prescribe radiation therapy. These treatment options are performed alone or in combination.
Most women diagnosed with choriocarcinoma are cured with timely medical intervention. However, each case of choriocarcinoma is different and requires individualized treatment. In rare cases, your doctor may perform a hysterectomy to remove the uterus.
A cancer diagnosis of any kind is concerning .However, if you are diagnosed with choriocarcinoma, the prognosis is excellent. It is rare cancer that metastasizes fast and rapidly spreads to other body parts. Chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or all the treatment options help successfully treat the disease.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can a woman get pregnant?
The good news is that you can get pregnant after successful treatment. However, if you have undergone a hysterectomy, getting pregnant is not possible.
What are the alternative names for choriocarcinoma?
Choriocarcinoma is called chorioblastoma, trophoblastic tumor, chorioepithelioma, and gestational trophoblastic neoplasia.