Choriocarcinoma is a category of gestational trophoblastic disease which is quick-growing form of cancer that occurs in a woman’s uterus (womb). It is a malignancy of placental origin in which the trophoblastic cells of the uterus undergo malignant alteration that causes improper progress of the villous. The chorionic villi are small hair like structures that attaches the placenta to the uterus during pregnancy. When the trophoblastic cells of the uterus undergo malignant transformation the tissues then form bunch-like watery structures which are unable to sustain the developing fetus.
A woman who suffers from a molar pregnancy is at a greater risk of developing this cancer of the placenta. Abnormal tissue develops during molar pregnancy in female reproductive system. Choriocarcinoma hardly grows outside the reproductive organs and are usually found in males. Choriocarcinoma if detected in early stages it is a highly curable tumor related to pregnancy. It may also occur even after an abortion, ectopic pregnancy or genital tumor. According to revealed statistics Choriocarcinoma occurs in 1 out of every 40,000 pregnancies.
The development of Choriocarcinoma leads by other pregnancy related conditions like hydatidiform mole, which constitutes 50% of all cases. Spontaneous abortion and ectopic pregnancy also results to 20% and 2% of the cases respectively. Normal term pregnancy may also result to 20 to 30% of Choriocarcinoma. The malignant cells usually grow following a normal pregnancy. Hydatidifporm mole, the leading cause of Choriocarcinoma is the development of grape-like structure that should have normally formed the embryo. The grape-like structures grow and should be removed because it does not cause feasible pregnancy and may form malignant cells. In tetsicles it is a rare form of Choriocarcinoma. But testicular Choriocarcinoma is not responsive to anticancer drugs and has a poor prognosis.
Choriocarcinoma Symptoms, Treatment, Prognosis
Here are certain symptoms of Choriocarcinoma, with careful examination, management and early diagnosis of the disease outcomes can be improved.
Symptoms of Choriocarcinoma commonly depend on the type of the body part affected. Abnormal vaginal bleeding is the most common sign of Choriocarcinoma which is different from menstrual bleeding. Irregular vaginal bleeding is common in women who have hydatidiform mole, abortion or pregnancy history.
Further indications of Choriocarcinoma include pain, swelling of the uterus, ovarian cysts, abdominal swelling, irregular vaginal bleeding, nausea and vomiting, anemia, Increased HCG levels that do not return to normal even after pregnancy, the size of the uterus does not change even after delivery and lump in the vagina.
Other Choriocarcinoma Signs and Symptoms depend on metastasis so with liver metastasis there is a bleeding due to ruptured liver. Individuals with metastases to the lungs possibly will have a dry cough with blood, chest pain and shortness of breath. Spreading of Choriocarcinoma to the intestinal tract may also be related with chronic blood loss and anemia or hemorrhage. And brain metastases are allied with brain tumor or stroke.
Treatment of Choriocarcinoma depends on age of patient, nature, the stage of the disease at the time it is diagnosed and spread of cancer to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy with surgery is the main type of treatment for Choriocarcinoma. Gestational Choriocarcinoma that usually arises from hydatidiform mole has been found to be sensitive to chemotherapy. The cure rate for gestational Choriocarcinoma using chemotherapy is 90 – 95%.
There may be mild to moderate bleeding for few days post surgery. Surgery is followed by chemotherapy for complete removal of the cancerous tumors. Chemotherapy is administered through drugs via the oral route or injected directly into the blood stream. Methotrexate is the drug of choice for treating Choriocarcinoma. The need of hysterectomy is rare in such cases as the disease gets treated with chemotherapy. Radiation therapy is required only when the cancer has spread to the brain.
Choriocarcinoma Prognosis and Life Expectancy
Metastatic Choriocarcinoma prognosis and life expectancy was once grim. But at the present with the advent of multidrug chemotherapy it has noticeably improved. The prognosis of Choriocarcinoma patient depends on the stage at which the condition is diagnosed. If the linked pregnancy was recent, the blood level of the hormone beta hCG is low, and the disease has not spread to other organs the prognosis is considered fine. As the condition is diagnosed early, the prognosis is usually favorable.
Choriocarcinoma Prognosis for patients whose disease has not metastasized and even cancer has extend can typically expect a 90% to 95% cure rate. Women whose cancer has not spread can be cured and will still be able to have children. On the other hand if the cancer metastasized and spreads to the liver or brain, HCG level is higher than 40,000 mIU/mL or Cancer returns after having chemotherapy, may reduce the cure rate.