Gestational Trophoblastic Disease

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Can gestational trophoblastic disease be found early?

Most cases of gestational trophoblastic (jeh-STAY-shuh-nul troh-fuh-BLAS-tik) disease (GTD) are found early during routine prenatal care. Usually, a woman has certain signs and symptoms, like vaginal bleeding, that suggest something may be wrong. (These symptoms are discussed in "Signs and symptoms of gestational trophoblastic disease") These problems will prompt the doctor to look for the cause of the trouble.

Often, moles or tumors cause swelling in the uterus that seems like a normal pregnancy. But a doctor can usually tell that this isn't a normal pregnancy during a routine ultrasound exam. A blood test for HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin [HYOO-mun KOR-ee-AH-nik goh-NA-doh-TROH-pin]) can also show that something is abnormal. This substance is normally elevated in the blood of pregnant women, but it may be very high if there is GTD.

Fortunately, even if it is not detected early, GTD is a very treatable (and usually curable) form of cancer.

Because women who have had one molar pregnancy are at increased risk, doctors can be especially careful in checking their future pregnancies with HCG tests and transvaginal or pelvic sonograms. (See “How is gestational trophoblastic disease diagnosed?”)

Last Medical Review: 02/06/2014
Last Revised: 02/09/2016