Gestational Trophoblastic Disease

GTD. What’s that, you wonder? When you’re preparing for or expecting a baby, your mind is full of acronyms like BBT (Basal Body Temperature), AF (Aunt Flo), DPO (Days Past Ovulation), BFP (Big Fat Positive), FTM (First Time Mom), PG (Pregnant), and OBGYN. If you were to Google the acronym “GTD”, it’s likely that the first result is a link to the American Cancer Society’s website. Strange, isn’t it? Usually when a person thinks about pregnancy, it doesn’t include the word cancer.

Gestational Trophoblastic Disease is a group of rare tumors that form as a result of a pregnancy. While the tumors are usually noncancerous, some forms of GTD can become malignant and spread to other parts of a woman’s body. That’s right, a woman who was hoping to grow a precious baby inside her could end up having a tumor grow instead.

There are two main groups of GTD – hydatidiform moles (molar pregnancies) and Gestational Trophoblastic Neoplasia.

Molar Pregnancy:

  • Complete molar pregnancy (CMP) starts when a sperm fertilizes an abnormal egg with no maternal DNA
  • Partial molar pregnancy (PMP) starts when a normal egg is fertilized by 2 sperm which results in the baby having 2 sets of paternal DNA (a total of 69 chromosomes)

Gestational Trophoblastic Neoplasia:

  • Invasive mole – a molar pregnancy that becomes invasive and spreads outside the uterus
  • Choriocarcinoma is a cancerous tumor formed from trophoblast cells (this can develop in any type of pregnancy)
  • Placental-site trophoblastic tumor is a tumor that is formed where the placenta and uterus are joined (this can develop in any type of pregnancy)
  • Epithelioid trophoblastic tumor which is a very rare tumor that that often spreads to the lungs after a normal pregnancy

As soon as a woman is diagnosed with GTD, they are often faced with grieving the loss of their child as well as having to be concerned for their own health. They start learning new acronyms like hCG, PMP, CMP, PSTT, and MTX. These mothers start changing their labels from the happy FTM to another acronym which indicates what type of GTD they were diagnosed with.

Treatment usually begins with surgery to remove abnormal cells and the patient’s hCG (pregnancy hormone) level is monitored weekly until it reaches a negative threshold. If that goes according to plan, they move on to monthly tests to make sure it stays negative before being cleared to try to conceive again. If levels do not decrease or start to increase, doctor’s will recommend doing a second surgery and/or starting a chemotherapy regimen like Methotrexate (MTX if you want to stick with the acronym theme). There is some good news…GTD has a very high cure rate.

Losing a baby is hard enough. Having the added stress of worrying about your health robs you of your chance to fully grieve the loss of your baby.

What wisdom can I pass on from my experience with GTD?

  • After each pregnancy (whether resulting in a baby or a baby loss), make sure you request that your hCG level is checked to ensure it reaches negative.
  • If you’ve been diagnosed with a from of GTD, please remember the prognosis is good. Even though you’re scared, you are not alone! Reach out to a support group of women who understand what you’re going through.
  • Having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby is truly a miracle. If you’re blessed enough to hold a baby in your arms, do not for one second take it for granted. Their existence is a MIRACLE.

Support and information:

https://mymolarpregnancy.com/ ***There are also related Facebook groups for those dealing with a recent diagnosis and one for those who have been cleared to try to conceive.

http://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/gestational-trophoblastic-disease/introduction

 

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