Choriocarcinoma is a rare form of cancer in the tissues of
the reproductive system. This type of cancer most often affects
women. But it can also include a rare type of
testicular cancer in men.
Choriocarcinoma in women usually follows a
It is more common after a molar pregnancy.
A molar pregnancy is one in which a fetus does not develop. A
tumor made up of abnormal cells develops instead of a baby. The
tumor of the molar pregnancy is usually benign, which means it is not cancer.
Molar pregnancies are more common in less developed parts of the
world where nutrition is poor. Choriocarcinoma is also more
common in those areas.
What is going on in the body?
Choriocarcinoma develops from reproductive tissue
cells, which are very active. When these cells undergo cancerous
changes, they grow and multiply very rapidly. A tumor forms and
sheds cancer cells into the bloodstream at an early stage. The
cancer cells in the bloodstream develop new cancers in other
parts of the body, a process known as metastasis.
If choriocarcinoma is not treated successfully, these tumors throughout
the body can result in damage. And that can quickly lead to death.
What are the causes and risks of the disease?
The exact cause of choriocarcinoma is unknown. A woman
whose diet is low in protein
and other nutrients is known to be at higher risk for molar
pregnancies. A woman who has had a molar pregnancy is also at high
risk for choriocarcinoma.