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Molar Pregnancy and Gestational Trophoblastic Cancer

Molar Pregnancy and Gestational Trophoblastic Cancer

A molar pregnancy is one where the early placenta develops into an abnormal mass of cysts. The embryo doesn’t form at all or is malformed and unable to survive. A molar pregnancy occurs approximately 1 in every 1,500 pregnancies.

A molar pregnancy can be either a complete mole, where there is no embryo or normal placental tissue, or a partial mole, where there is an abnormal embryo and some normal placental tissue. An abnormal fertilized egg causes both types of molar pregnancies.

While a molar pregnancy may start off like a normal pregnancy, at about the tenth week molar symptoms will begin. These can include vaginal bleeding, severe nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure and cysts on the ovaries. Your AOA healthcare provider will use an ultrasound and measure levels of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin – a hormone produced during pregnancy) to diagnose a molar pregnancy.

A molar pregnancy can be frightening. It means not only the loss of a pregnancy, but an increased risk of developing cancer. All molar tissue must be removed from the uterus with a D&C. After the removal, your doctor will measure the level of hCG. If it has dropped to zero, you will generally need no further treatment. It will be important, however, for your doctor to continue to monitor hCG levels for six months to a year after a molar pregnancy. For that reason, it is important that a woman who has had a molar pregnancy not get pregnant again for at least a year.

The good news is that the outlook for a healthy future pregnancy is good. The risk of another molar pregnancy is only 1 to 2 percent.

Learn more about molar pregnancies and gestational trophoblastic cancer.

March of Dimes: Ectopic and Molar Pregnancy

ACOG: Early Pregnancy Loss

ACS: Gestational Trophoblastic Disease