Choriocarcinoma

Choriocarcinoma

Choriocarcinoma

Choriocarcinoma is one of the rarest forms of cancer, also known as germ cell cancer as it is related to the placenta, testes, and ovum. Placenta is the physiological junction between mother and the growing fetus to assist in exchange of supplies, nutrients, drugs, oxygen, etc. Placenta is essential and responsible for the growth and development of fetus within the mother’s womb.

This type of cancer is associated with pregnancy with a high malignant tendency where cells multiply and spread rapidly to other systems and organs of the body like lungs. The metastasis is hematologic. A choriocarcinoma usually occurs after a molar pregnancy because molar pregnant mothers are at high risk. It can be originated from testis or from ovary in females.


What may cause Choriocarcinoma?

  1. If a mother have had the incidence of hydatidiform mole during pregnancy, then there is 50% chance to have this condition.

  2. In the case of spontaneous abortion, 20% of cases can get Choriocarcinoma.

  3. Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy at somewhere else instead of uterus), 2% of cases can get Choriocarcinoma.

  4. 30% of cases can be normal during pregnancy.

  5. Only about 5% of Choriocarcinoma cases occurs at testicular origin.

  6. Nutritional deficiencies like proteins and vitamins during pregnancy may contribute to choriocarcinoma risks.

  7. A woman suffering from frequent intra uterine infections.

  8. Multiple pregnancies, pregnancy before the age of 18 years and after the age of 35 can be a leading factor.


What are the manifestations of Choriocarcinoma?

  1. Symptoms vary; depending on the location of tumor, size and how it spreads.

  2. Intra uterine bleeding (bleeding in the womb) can be a hidden sign.

  3. Ovarian carcinomas might enlarge and cause pain, widening of the waistline.

  4. A painless, small lump in testis can be notified easily. If the metastasis is evident, then lungs can be damaged which can be visualized easily.

  5. HCG (Human chorionic gonadotrophins) levels, these are responsible for fetal growth and normal pregnancy.

  6. Impaired breathing could lead to shortness of breath.

  7. Hemoptysis due to lung involvement (sputum with blood).

  8. Chest pain and chest X-ray shows multiple infiltrates of various shapes in both lungs.

  9. If you are a male, then there can be an increased thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).

How to diagnose Choriocarcinoma?

To diagnose Choriocarcinoma, the doctor can take a sample of your bleeding, PAP smear and X-rays, and ultrasound studies. CT magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of lungs as well as reproductive organs can show the evidence of a mass. A drastic increase in HCG can also be a sign of germ cell cancers.

What are the treatment options for Choriocarcinoma?

  1. These cancers are highly responsive and sensitive to chemotherapy. Methotrexate is the drug of choice to treat this condition. But the combination therapy on a trial can also work well.

  2. Hysterectomy is considered if condition is in the advanced stage, but make sure that you are not in the reproductive age, or you are not in the need of having a child in further because hysterectomy doesn’t give a chance to conceive again.

  3. Stress management and alternative measures play important roles in preventing the condition.