What is Trophoblastic disease?
Gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD) is a term used for a group of pregnancy-related tumours. These tumours are rare, and they appear when cells in the womb start to proliferate uncontrollably. The cells that form gestational trophoblastic tumours are called trophoblasts and come from tissue that grows to form the placenta during pregnancy.
There are several different types of GTD. Hydatidiform moles are, in most cases, benign, but may, sometimes, develop into invasive moles, or, in rare cases, into choriocarcinoma, which is likely to spread quickly, but which is very sensitive to chemotherapy, and has a very good prognosis. Gestational trophoblasts are of particular interest to cell biologists because, like cancer, these cells invade tissue (the uterus), but unlike cancer, they sometimes "know" when to stop.
GTD can simulate pregnancy, because the uterus may contain fetal tissue, albeit abnormal. This tissue may grow at the same rate as a normal pregnancy, and produces chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone which is measured to monitor fetal well-being.
While GTD overwhelmingly affects women of child-bearing age, it may rarely occur in postmenopausal women.