choriocarcinoma

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A choriocarcinoma is a highly malignant neoplasm of trophoblastic cells. It occurs in 1 in 30000 to 1 in 65000 pregnancies in the UK.

Fifty percent of patients have had a preceding molar pregnancy; 25% of cases follow a spontaneous or induced abortion; and 25% of cases follow a normal or an ectopic pregnancy.

Pathologically, the tumour is soft, highly vascular, and bleeds readily. Histologically, it consists of sheets of syncitio - and cytotrophoblast without identifiable villi. It grows rapidly and metastasises early, especially to the lungs.

Genetic analysis usually reveals aneuploidy or polyploidy.

Serum beta-hCG is raised, and is used to monitor treatment.

Last reviewed 07/2021

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