Choriocarcinoma is a 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. This is the organ that develops during pregnancy to feed the fetus.
Choriocarcinoma is an uncommon cancer that occurs during pregnancy. A baby may or may not develop in this type of pregnancy.
The cancer may occur after a normal pregnancy. But it most often occurs with a complete hydatidiform mole. The abnormal tissue from the mole can continue to grow even after it is removed, and can turn into cancer. About half of all women with a choriocarcinoma had a hydatidiform mole, or molar pregnancy.
Choriocarcinomas may also occur after an early pregnancy that does not continue (miscarriage), or after an ectopic pregnancy or genital tumor.
A possible symptom is abnormal or irregular vaginal bleeding in a woman who recently had a hydatidiform mole or pregnancy.
Other symptoms may include:
Irregular vaginal bleeding
Exams and Tests
A pregnancy test will be positive even if you are not pregnant. The pregnancy hormone (HCG) level will be high.
A pelvic exam may show uterine swelling or a tumor.
National Cancer Institute: PDQ Gestational Trophoblastic Disease Treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified 4/25/2014. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/gestationaltrophoblastic/HealthProfessional. Accessed June 11, 2014.
Cynthia D. White, MD, Fellow American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Group Health Cooperative, Bellevue, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.