Gestational Trophoblastic Disease Treatment

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Commonly known as a molar pregnancy, gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD) is highly treatable. But it can be heartbreaking. GTD will seem like a normal pregnancy but a healthy baby can't develop.

The good news is women can go on to have a normal pregnancy after treatment. 

GTD Treatment at UVA Health 

UVA Health gynecologic oncologists are experts in treating molar pregnancies and all types of GTD. They'll guide you through every phase of treatment. We'll do our best to treat your tumors and keep your fertility intact.

If you're facing GTD, you may need:

  • Surgery to expand the lower part of the uterus and remove abnormal tissues
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Hysterectomy

What Is Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD)?

A rare disease and no one's fault, GTD happens when abnormal cells grow inside the uterus after conception. Certain cells, called trophoblasts, normally surround the fertilized egg. They help connect the fertilized egg to the wall of the uterus. And they form part of the placenta (where nutrients pass from the mother to the fetus).

When there's a problem with the fertilized egg and trophoblast cells, a tumor forms.

Most GTD tumors don't become cancer, and they don't spread. But some types become cancer. These malignant tumors could spread to nearby tissues or other parts of your body. 

Molar Pregnancy Types

Gestational trophoblastic disease includes different types of disease.

The most common type is hydatidiform moles (HM), or a molar pregnancy. These slow-growing tumors look like sacs of fluid. We don't know what causes them.

HMs may be complete or partial.

  • A complete HM forms when sperm fertilizes an egg that doesn't contain the mother’s DNA. The egg has DNA from the father. The cells that were meant to become the placenta form a tumor instead.
  • A partial HM forms when sperm fertilizes a normal egg. But the fertilized egg has two sets of DNA from the father. Only part of the fetus forms. Cells meant to become the placenta grow into a tumor.

What Are the Signs of GTD?

Signs of GTD include:

  • Vaginal bleeding not related to your period (menstruation)
  • A uterus that is larger than expected during pregnancy
  • Pain or pressure in the pelvis
  • Severe nausea and vomiting during pregnancy
  • High blood pressure with headache and swelling of feet and hands early in the pregnancy
  • Vaginal bleeding that continues for longer than normal after delivery
  • Fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, and a fast or irregular heartbeat caused by anemia

GTD sometimes causes an overactive thyroid. You might have:

  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Shakiness
  • Sweating
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling anxious or irritable
  • Weight loss

How Do Doctors Find Gestational Trophoblastic Disease?

We may use these tests and procedures to diagnose GTD:

  • Physical exam and history
  • Pelvic exam
  • Ultrasound exam of the pelvis
  • Lumbar puncture
  • Blood chemistry studies
  • Serum tumor marker test
  • Urinalysis


Hope After a Pregnancy Loss

GTP is one of many reasons for pregnancy loss. But even after a miscarriage, it's possible to go on to have a successful pregnancy. Read about one woman's journey. 

Read Stacy Lynn's story