Pregnancy is a beautiful and fantastic time in a woman’s life. However, it can also be a time of great stress and anxiety. One of the things that can cause stress and anxiety during pregnancy is the possibility of complications. Choriocarcinoma is an infrequent cancer condition, but it can be perilous for both the mother and the baby.
The good news about this rare but severe complication that can occur during pregnancy is that choriocarcinoma cancer can be effectively managed with early diagnosis and treatment.
What is Choriocarcinoma?
In short, choriocarcinoma is a rare but aggressive type of cancer that can develop during pregnancy. It occurs when cancerous cells from the placenta invade the woman’s bloodstream. While this cancer is rare, it is the most common type of gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD). GTD occurs when abnormal cells grow in the tissues that usually become the placenta.
Cancer for most women with choriocarcinoma will go away after the baby is born. However, in some cases, cancer can spread to other body parts and become life-threatening. This is why it is crucial for women to be aware of the symptoms of this cancer and to see their doctor if they experience any of them.
Symptoms of Choriocarcinoma
There are often no symptoms in the early stages of this cancer. As cancer grows and spreads, the following symptoms may develop:
Vaginal bleeding is the most common symptom of this cancer. It may be heavy or light and can occur at any time during the pregnancy. It can occur even if the woman has never had a vaginal bleed during her pregnancy.
Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
Abnormal uterine bleeding is any bleeding that occurs outside of the normal menstrual cycle. This can include bleeding after sex, between periods, or after menopause.
Who Is Most at Risk of Choriocarcinoma
While this cancer can occur in any woman, certain factors can increase the risk. These include:
History of Miscarriage or Abortion
Women who have had a previous miscarriage or abortion are at an increased risk of developing this cancer. This is because the abnormal cells that can lead to this cancer are often present in the placenta after a miscarriage or abortion. They usually go away on their own, but in some cases, they can develop into cancer.
A molar pregnancy is a type of gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD). It occurs when the cells that should become the baby begin to grow abnormally. Molar pregnancies usually end in miscarriage, but in some cases, they can develop into this cancer.
Pregnancy with Twins or Higher Order Multiples
Pregnant women with twins or higher order multiples are at an increased risk of developing this cancer. This is because they often have a higher level of the hormone HCG, which can lead to the development of cancerous cells.
Women who are under the age of 20 or over the age of 35 are at an increased risk of developing this cancer. This is because they are more likely to have a higher level of HCG.
Choriocarcinoma Treatments Available
If you are diagnosed with this cancer, there are several treatment options available. These include:
- Chemotherapy, which is the primary treatment for this cancer. It uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It is usually given as an injection into a vein. It can be given as a single drug or a combination of drugs. This treatment is generally administered for three to six months.
- Surgery, which may be an option if the cancer has not spread to other body parts. The goal of surgery is to remove the cancerous tissue. This can be done by a hysterectomy, which removes the uterus, or by a salpingo-oophorectomy, which removes the fallopian tubes and ovaries.
- Radiation Therapy, which uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. It is usually given along with chemotherapy. This treatment is generally given for three to six weeks. It can be given as external beam radiation or as internal radiation.
- Targeted Therapy, a newer treatment that uses drugs to target specific molecules in cancer cells. This helps to kill the cancer cells while sparing the normal cells. This treatment is usually given for three to six months.
Choriocarcinoma is a rare but severe type of cancer that can occur during pregnancy. If you are diagnosed with this cancer, there are several treatment options available. These include chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, and targeted therapy. With proper treatment, most women with this cancer can be cured.