Gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD) is referred to as a group of uncommon tumors that occur during pregnancy in the fetal chorion, which is the outer part of the sac that surrounds the fetus as it grows. GTD can occur in any type of pregnancy. The condition is curable, if identified early.
Gestational trophoblastic disease begins when normal cells of the placenta, called trophoblast cells, change and grow uncontrollably forming a tumor. The disease is usually benign but can turn cancerous and spread to other parts of the body.
Gestational trophoblastic disease usually occurs when there is an issue with the combination of a man’s sperm and a woman’s egg. Trophoblast cells normally grow and surround a fertilized egg in the uterus, helping to connect the fertilized egg to the uterine wall and to form the placenta. A healthy fetus will not develop if this condition occurs and instead a tumor is formed. In rarest of rare cases, GTD is a cancerous growth that begins from a normal placenta and may be found after a normal pregnancy and delivery of a baby.
Symptoms and Signs of Gestational trophoblastic disease
Initially, GTD may not cause any symptoms because it may look like a normal pregnancy. The following signs may indicate a potential problem:
Diagnosis of Gestational trophoblastic disease
Apart from full physical examination, your doctor may perform certain tests:
- Your doctor may check the uterus, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, and rectum for any unusual changes or lumps. This is similar to an annual gynecological check-up.
- Additional blood and urine tests may also be done, including tests to check the woman’s thyroid, liver, kidney, and bone marrow function.
- A transvaginal ultrasound is done where an ultrasound wand is inserted into the vagina and aimed at the uterus, to obtain the pictures.
- An X-Ray is a method to create a picture of the structures inside of the body using a small amount of radiation.
- A CT scan creates a three-dimensional picture of the inside of the body with an x-ray machine. A computer then combines these images into a detailed, cross-sectional view that shows any tumors.
- An MRI uses magnetic fields to produce detailed images of the body. MRI can also be used to measure the tumor’s size.
Treatment for Gestational trophoblastic disease
- Surgery: Surgery is the removal of the tumor and surrounding tissue during an operation. In most cases, it is the only treatment necessary.
- Hysterectomy: A hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the woman’s uterus and cervix. This kind of surgery is suggested to minimize risk of cancer recurrence.
- Chemotherapy: It is the use of drugs to destroy tumor cells, usually by stopping those cells’ ability to grow and divide. Sometimes, chemotherapy is used as a single treatment, and in other cases, it may be combined with surgery.
Gestational trophoblastic disease and its treatment often cause side effects. In addition to treatment, a crucial part of medical care
is relieving a person’s symptoms and side effects. This approach is called supportive care, and it includes supporting the patient with her physical, emotional, and social needs.