Find out more about choriocarcinoma and how we diagnose and treat it at Charing Cross Hospital.

Information about choriocarcinoma

A choriocarcinoma is a malignancy that develops within the placenta during an otherwise normal pregnancy.

This is a rare condition with 10 to 20 cases each year in the UK out of nearly one million pregnancies.

Diagnosis

Choriocarcinoma can become apparent occasionally during the last few weeks of pregnancy, but more commonly in the first few months after delivery. The most frequent problems you may experience are persistent bleeding or problems caused by the disease spreading to the lungs. The condition can sometimes take a while to diagnose, however an elevated hCG level in a woman will usually confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment

You will initially be treated for choriocarcinoma as an inpatient at Charing Cross Hospital, generally with EMA-CO chemotherapy. Fortunately choriocarcinoma is highly sensitive to chemotherapy, with a very high expectation of cure once diagnosed.

EMA-CO chemotherapy is intense, with treatment given weekly. Treatment alternates weekly between the EMA treatment, which requires an overnight stay in hospital, and the CO treatment the following week, which you will be given as an outpatient in the day unit at Charing Cross or your local hospital. In individuals with particular medical issues the treatment may be altered slightly.

Treatment for choriocarcinoma usually takes four months to complete and the cure rate is over 95 per cent. The treatment is continued for six to eight weeks after the hCG level has returned to normal.

Diagnosis and treatment of placental site trophoblastic tumour (PSTT)

Placental site trophoblastic tumour is a very rare diagnosis with less than five cases each year in the UK. This is also a form of cancer that arises after a pregnancy and is generally diagnosed months or years after the pregnancy. The most common symptoms are either abnormal bleeding or the periods stopping altogether. PSTT is also a highly curable illness, although the treatment can be more complicated than the other forms of GTD.

All patients with PSTT are seen and assessed at Charing Cross Hospital and have their individualised treatments planned here.