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Gestational Trophoblastic Disease

Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center

Because of the rarity of gestational trophoblastic disease, only highly specialized gynecologic oncologists like those at UT Southwestern Medical Center have the experience necessary to treat this condition.

As the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in North Texas, we deliver the best cancer care available today and push to discover new treatments. NCI designation means we offer patients the ability to participate in the broadest possible range of clinical trials, with access to potential therapies not available at other facilities.

Effective Cancer Treatment, Fertility Preservation

Gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD) is a group of rare tumors that grows inside a woman’s uterus when she is pregnant. These tumors develop in the cells that form the placenta, which surrounds an embryo during pregnancy.

UT Southwestern’s highly skilled gynecologic oncologists deliver comprehensive, effective, and compassionate care to women with GTD. We consider the disease to be curable, and we do everything possible to preserve a patient’s ability to have children, if that is her desire.

One specialist will oversee each patient’s care and work with the referring obstetrician/gynecologist before returning the patient to regular care when treatment is complete.

Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

GTD occurs when the normal cell-division process to create a fetus does not occur. Instead, a tumor grows.

Signs of GTD include abnormal vaginal bleeding and a larger-than- normal uterus.

To diagnose this condition, a patient’s Ob/Gyn might perform several tests, such as:

  • Physical exam and medical history
  • Pelvic exam
  • Ultrasound
  • Blood chemistry study
  • Serum tumor marker test
  • Urinalysis

Treatment

UT Southwestern offers the latest treatments for GTD, which include:

  • Surgery: Such as suction dilation and curettage (D&C) or hysterectomy
  • Chemotherapy: Might be given after surgery to kill any remaining tumor cells
  • Radiation therapy: Not used often with GTD but can be useful if the disease has spread and is not responding to chemotherapy

Learn more about gynecologic cancer treatments.

Clinical Trials

Many patients qualify to participate in gynecologic cancer-related clinical trials conducted at UT Southwestern to gain access to new treatments and further research of the disease.

A clinical trial conducted at UT Southwestern found that the most effective single-drug chemotherapy regimen for treating some patients with early-stage gestational trophoblastic neoplasia is a biweekly dose of dactinomycin. The trial showed that this drug was superior to a weekly intramuscular injection of methotrexate in stopping the growth of cancerous cells in the uterus. Dactinomycin had a 70 percent complete response rate compared with 53 percent for methotrexate.

UT Southwestern patients who received dactinomycin required half the number of treatment cycles. Additionally, dactinomycin was easy to administer and had low toxicity – a strong consideration for young, reproductive-age women. Additional studies in this area are currently underway.

Learn more about cancer clinical trials offered at UT Southwestern.

Related Conditions and Treatments

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Seay Biomedical Building

2201 Inwood Road
Dallas, Texas 75390
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