These tumours typically occur in women of childbearing age as a gestational choriocarcinoma. Most such cases present within one year of an antecedent pregnancy 2. Presentation beyond reproductive age as a non-gestational choriocarcinoma is a rare occurrence 2-3.
As with choriocarcinomas in general, it is a highly vascular neoplasm. The tumour comprises of trophoblastic cells. On histology, there is an absence of chorionic villi (c.f. other forms of GTD).
In the case of gestational choriocarcinoma, approximately 5% of cases of complete hydatidiform mole are followed by choriocarcinoma.
Only about half the cases of choriocarcinoma arise from a complete hydatidiform mole. An additional 25% of cases arise after normal pregnancies, and 25% follow spontaneous abortion or ectopic pregnancy.
Regardless of the imaging modality used, choriocarcinoma often appears as a mass enlarging the uterus. Sometimes it manifests as a discrete, central, infiltrative mass. Its heterogeneous appearance correlates with necrosis and haemorrhage that characterise these lesions.
They can have variable sonographic appearances, but customarily present as an infiltrative heterogeneous mass invading myometrium and beyond. The uterus may be enlarged. Cystic areas from necrosis and haemorrhage may be present.
The ovaries can be shown enlarged due to cysts secondary to increased levels of β-hCG (see case 3).
Treatment and prognosis
Those cases that arise after complete hydatidiform mole are nearly all cured by chemotherapy (in contrast to the others, which have a less favourable prognosis).
- 1. Hönigl W, Reich O, Ranner G et-al. [Choriocarcinoma of the uterus after term pregnancy: imaging by vaginal color Doppler ultrasound]. Ultraschall Med. 1997;18 (4): 165-8. doi:10.1055/s-2007-1000418 - Pubmed citation
- 2. Desai NR, Gupta S, Said R et-al. Choriocarcinoma in a 73-year-old woman: a case report and review of the literature. J Med Case Reports. 2010;4 : 379. doi:10.1186/1752-1947-4-379 - Free text at pubmed - Pubmed citation
- 3. Diouf A, Cissé ML, Laïco A et-al. [Sonographic features of gestational choriocarcinoma]. J Radiol. 2005;86 (5 Pt 1): 469-73. - Pubmed citation