What is gestational trophoblastic disease?

Gestational trophoblastic disease includes any of a group of tumours that develops from trophoblastic cells (cells that help an embryo attach to the uterus and help form the placenta) after fertilisation of an egg by a sperm.

Gestational trophoblastic disease is also called gestational trophoblastic tumour. Read More

The types of gestational trophoblastic disease are hydatidiform mole (also called a molar pregnancy), gestational trophoblastic neoplasia and placental-site trophoblastic tumour.

A hydatidiform mole is usually benign (not cancer), but it may spread to nearby tissues (invasive mole) or become a malignant tumour.

Gestational trophoblastic disease occurs in women during the years when they are able to have children.

The female reproductive organs

Gestational trophoblastic disease starts inside the uterus, the hollow, muscular, pear-shaped organ (also called the womb) where a baby grows.

The uterus is the main female reproductive organ. The bulk of the uterus is smooth muscle tissue, which is called the myometrium. The uterus sits low in the abdomen between the bladder and rectum, and is held there lightly by muscle. It is joined to the vagina by the cervix, which is the neck of the uterus.

When women ovulate (produce eggs in their ovaries), an egg travels through their fallopian tube into the uterus. If the egg is fertilised by a sperm, it will implant itself into the lining of the uterus and grow into a baby.

The lining of the uterus is called the endometrium. The endometrium is made up of several layers, including skin-like cells (surface epithelium), blood vessels, tissue spaces and glands. If a woman is ovulating, the endometrium will grow thicker each month to prepare for pregnancy. If the egg is not fertilised, the top layers of the endometrium are shed and flow out of the body through the vagina during menstruation. This is known as a woman’s period. Hide