What is gestational trophoblastic disease?
Gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD) is that the term given to a gaggle of rare tumors that develop during the first stages of pregnancy. After conception, a woman’s body prepares for pregnancy by surrounding the newly fertilized egg or embryo with a layer of cells called the trophoblast. The trophoblast helps the embryo implant itself to the uterine wall. These cells also form a large part of the tissue that make up the placenta — the organ that supplies nutrients to a developing fetus. In GTD, there are abnormal changes in the trophoblast cells that cause tumors to develop.
Most GTD tumors are benign (noncancerous), but some have the potential to turn malignant (cancerous). GTD is usually classified into one of two categories:
Ø Hydatidiform moles
Ø Gestational trophoblastic neoplasia (GTN)
Gestational Trophoblastic Disease Prevention
There are no preventive medicines or treatments for GTD. The only thanks to prevent this very rare disease is to not become pregnant.
Gestational Trophoblastic Disease Causes and Risk Factors
Although it's a really rare disease, there are some factors which will increase a woman’s risk of developing GTD. They include:
Ø Maternal age: If a woman becomes pregnant when she is younger than 20 or older than 35, she has a higher chance of developing gestational trophoblastic disease.
Ø Previous molar pregnancy
Ø History of miscarriage
Gestational Trophoblastic Disease Symptoms
Consult a doctor if you experience any/all of the following symptoms:
Ø Bleeding or discharge not related to your periods (menstruation)
Ø A larger-than-usual uterus while pregnant
Ø Pain and/or mass in the pelvic area
Ø Extreme bouts of nausea and vomiting
The symptoms listed above are also associated with many other gynecologic and pregnancy-related conditions. However, the only way to know if your symptoms are being caused by GTD is to have them evaluated by a doctor.
Gestational Trophoblastic Disease Diagnosis
Diagnosis of GTD includes a review of your medical record and a general physical exam. It may also include one or more of the following:
Ø Internal pelvic exam: This is done to feel for any lumps or changes in the shape of the uterus.
Ø Pap test (also called Pap smear): This test involves a microscopic exam of cells collected from the cervix, used to detect changes that may be cancer or may lead to cancer and to show noncancerous conditions, such as infection or inflammation.
Ø Transvaginal ultrasound (also called ultrasonography): This ultrasound test uses a small instrument, called a transducer, that is placed in the vagina to look at the uterus and nearby tissue.
Ø Blood tests: Doctors use blood samples to check the levels of certain hormones and other substances that may be impacted by the presence of GTD.
Ø Urinalysis: GTD may alter the amount of sugar, protein, bacteria and certain hormones in a woman’s urine.
When cancer cells are found, other tests are wont to see if the disease has spread from the uterus to other parts of the body. These procedures may include:
Ø Spinal tap: In this procedure, the doctor inserts a needle into the patient’s spinal column to collect cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid is tested for high amounts of the hormone HCG. This is wiped out cases where doctors may suspect the GTD has spread to the brain or medulla spinalis .
Ø Computed tomography (CT or CAT): These are scans of various sections of the abdomen (belly).
Ø Chest X-rays
Gestational Trophoblastic Disease Treatment
Specific treatment for GTD are going to be determined by your doctor and based on:
Ø Your overall health and medical history
Ø Extent and type of GTD
Ø Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies
Ø Expectations for the course of the disease
Ø Whether you wish to become pregnant in the future
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