Choriocarcinoma is an rare, fast-growing form of cancer that occurs in a woman's uterus (womb). The abnormal cells start in the tissue that would normally become the placenta. the organ that develops during pregnancy that feeds the growing baby. This form of cancer can quickly spread to the lungs through the blood stream. Early symptoms include increased hormone levels and abnormal vaginal bleeding. If it progresses or spreads, symptoms may include difficulty breathing, coughing up blood, and chest pain. Choriocarcinoma is one type of gestational trophoblastic disease.
Choriocarcinoma most commonly occurs after a molar pregnancy (placenta develops abnormally and the tissue continues to grow into cancer), but can also occur after a miscarriage, embryo implantation outside the uterus where it is supposed to implant (ectopic), and extreme cases of dehydration and nausea during pregnancy. It can also occur after a normal pregnancy. Very rarely, a choriocarcinoma starts in a location other than the placenta such as in the ovary or testis in men and in both cases, the outlook is poor. In females with choriocarcinoma of the placenta, testing will include hormone level checks, blood tests, pelvic exam to detect a mass, CT scans and MRI. Treatment is generally chemotherapy. Hysterectomy and radiation are not usually needed. Future normal pregnancies are possible. If cancer has spread, other treatments may be necessary. Outlook is variable and depends upon multiple factors. Recurrence is possible. In order to best treat your case of choriocarcinoma, it is important to consult your doctor. There are also support groups to provide additional guidance.