Treating Gestational Trophoblastic Disease
The first part of this section describes the various types of treatments used for gestational trophoblastic (jeh-STAY-shuh-nul troh-fuh-BLAS-tik) disease (GTD). This information is followed by a description of the most common approaches used to treat these cancers based on the type and classification of GTD.
Making treatment decisions
After GTD is diagnosed and staged, your medical team can recommend one or more treatment options. Doctors on your cancer treatment team may include:
- A gynecologist: a doctor who treats diseases of the female reproductive system
- A gynecologic oncologist: a doctor who specializes in cancers of the female reproductive system
- A radiation oncologist: a doctor who uses radiation to treat cancer
- A medical oncologist: a doctor who uses chemotherapy and other medicines to treat cancer
Many other specialists may be involved in your care as well, including nurse practitioners, nurses, psychologists, social workers, rehabilitation specialists, and other health professionals.
No matter what type or stage of GTD a woman has, treatment is available. Your treatment choice depends on many factors. The location and the extent of the disease are very important. Other important factors include the type of GTD present, the level of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin [HYOO-mun KOR-ee-AH-nik goh-NA-doh-TROH-pin]), duration of the disease, sites of metastasis if any, and the extent of prior treatment. In selecting a treatment plan, you and your medical team will also consider your age, general state of health, and personal preferences.
It is important to begin treatment as soon as possible after GTD has been detected. The main methods of treatment are:
Sometimes the best approach combines 2 or more of these methods. See “Treatment of gestational trophoblastic disease by type and stage” for information about common treatment plans.
It is important to discuss all of your treatment options, including their goals and possible side effects, with your doctors to help make the decision that best fits your needs. It’s also very important to ask questions if there is anything you’re not sure about. You can find some good questions to ask in “What should you ask your doctor about gestational trophoblastic disease?”
Thinking about taking part in a clinical trial
Clinical trials are carefully controlled research studies that are done to get a closer look at promising new treatments or procedures. Clinical trials are one way to get state-of-the art cancer treatment. In some cases they may be the only way to get access to newer treatments. They are also the best way for doctors to learn better methods to treat cancer. Still, they are not right for everyone.
If you would like to learn more about clinical trials that might be right for you, start by asking your doctor if your clinic or hospital conducts clinical trials. You can also call our clinical trials matching service at 1-800-303-5691 for a list of studies that meet your medical needs, or see the Clinical Trials section to learn more.
Considering complementary and alternative methods
You may hear about alternative or complementary methods that your doctor hasn’t mentioned to treat your cancer or relieve symptoms. These methods can include vitamins, herbs, and special diets, or other methods such as acupuncture or massage, to name a few.
Complementary methods refer to treatments that are used along with your regular medical care. Alternative treatments are used instead of a doctor’s medical treatment. Although some of these methods might be helpful in relieving symptoms or helping you feel better, many have not been proven to work. Some might even be dangerous.
Be sure to talk to your cancer care team about any method you are thinking about using. They can help you learn what is known (or not known) about the method, which can help you make an informed decision. See the Complementary and Alternative Medicine section to learn more.
Help getting through cancer treatment
Your cancer care team will be your first source of information and support, but there are other resources for help when you need it. Hospital- or clinic-based support services are an important part of your care. These might include nursing or social work services, financial aid, nutritional advice, rehab, or spiritual help.
The American Cancer Society also has programs and services – including rides to treatment, lodging, support groups, and more – to help you get through treatment. Call our National Cancer Information Center at 1-800-227-2345 and speak with one of our trained specialists on call 24 hours a day, every day.