Gestational Trophoblastic Tumour
What is a gestational trophoblastic tumour?
A gestational trophoblastic tumour, also known as GTT, is a tumour that usually develops in the womb. However, it is very different to womb cancer as GTT develops from the tissue that occurs in the womb when a woman is pregnant. GTT can either be cancerous or non-cancerous (benign). There are different types of GTT with the most common type being molar pregnancy; which is non-cancerous. GTT may also be referred to as trophoblastic disease, gestational trophoblastic disease or gestational trophoblastic neoplasia.
What causes GTT?
Molar pregnancy is the most common type of GTT. It is not known what causes molar pregnancies but certain risk factors have been identified, which include:
- Age: complete molar pregnancies are most common among mothers over the age of 40 and teenage mothers
- Ethnicity: molar pregnancies are more common among Asian women
- History: if you have already had a molar pregnancy you are more likely to have another molar pregnancy
Symptoms of GTT
In the early stages GTT may not cause any symptoms, but this will not be the case every time. Symptoms to look out for include:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding (usually between 6 and 12 weeks)
- Nausea and sickness
- Abdominal inflammation
- Overactive thyroid (this is rare)
- High blood pressure
How is GTT diagnosed?
If your GP suspects that you may have GTT they will refer you to a specialist for tests, which ie likely to include blood tests, ultrasound and urine tests. The results of the tests will be used to confirm a diagnosis.
How is GTT treated?
Treatments are available for all types of GTT and almost all cases are curable, with treatment usually involving surgery.
What is the outlook for people with GTT?
The outlook for GTT is positive and nearly all cases are curable, with treatments available for all types of GTT. It is rare for molar pregnancy to become cancerous and spread to other parts of the body, and treatment can cure both cancerous and non-cancerous forms of GTT. Many women have healthy pregnancies after being treated for GTT. Your doctor will talk to you about fertility and you should ask any questions you have about fertility or having children in the future.
Living with GTT
Living with gestational trophoblastic tumour cancer is often very challenging, both physically and emotionally. If you could do with more support, advice or information, or you simply want somebody to talk to, feel free to contact one of the UK cancer charities.