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Title: Choriocarcinoma  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Germ cell tumor, Gestational trophoblastic disease, Germinoma, Teratoma, Molar pregnancy
Collection: Germ Cell Neoplasia, Gynaecological Cancer, Male Genital Neoplasia
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Micrograph of choriocarcinoma showing both of the components necessary for the diagnosis - cytotrophoblasts and syncytiotrophoblasts. The syncytiotrophoblasts are multinucleated and have a dark staining cytoplasm. The cytotrophoblasts are mononuclear and have a pale staining cytoplasm. H&E stain.
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 C58
ICD-9-CM 181
ICD-O M9100/3-9101
DiseasesDB 2602
MedlinePlus 001496
MeSH D002822

Choriocarcinoma is a malignant, trophoblastic[1] cancer, usually of the placenta. It is characterized by "early hematogenous spread" to the lungs. It belongs to the malignant end of the spectrum in gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD). It is also classified as a germ cell tumor and may arise in the testis or ovary.


  • Pathology 1
  • Etiology/Epidemiology 2
  • Symptoms/Signs/Labs 3
  • Treatment 4
  • Additional images 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Characteristic feature is the identification of intimately related syncytiotrophoblasts and cytotrophoblasts without formation of definite placental type villi. Since choriocarcinomas include syncytiotrophoblasts (beta-HCG producing cells), they cause elevated blood levels of beta-human chorionic gonadotropin.

Syncytiotrophoblasts are large multi-nucleated cells with eosinophilic cytoplasm. They often surround the cytotrophoblasts, reminiscent of their normal anatomical relationship in chorionic villi. Cytotrophoblasts are polyhedral, mononuclear cells with hyperchromatic nuclei and a clear or pale cytoplasm. Extensive hemorrhage is a common finding.


Choriocarcinoma of the placenta during pregnancy is preceded by:

Rarely, choriocarcinoma occurs in primary locations other than the placenta; very rarely, it occurs in testicles. Although trophoblastic components are common components of mixed germ cell tumors, pure choriocarcinoma of the adult testis is rare. Pure choriocarcinoma of the testis represents the most aggressive pathologic variant of germ cell tumors in adults, characteristically with early hematogenous and lymphatic metastatic spread. Because of early spread and inherent resistance to anticancer drugs, patients have poor prognosis. Elements of choriocarcinoma in a mixed testicular tumor have no prognostic importance.[2][3]

Choriocarcinomas can also occur in the ovaries.[4][5]



Since gestational choriocarcinoma (which arises from a hydatidiform mole) contains paternal DNA (and thus paternal antigens), it is exquisitely sensitive to chemotherapy. The cure rate, even for metastatic gestational choriocarcinoma, is around 90-95%.

At present, treatment with single-agent methotrexate is recommended for low-risk disease, while intense combination regimens including EMACO (etoposide, methotrexate, actinomycin D, cyclosphosphamide and vincristine (Oncovin) are recommended for intermediate or high-risk disease.[6][7]

Hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) can also be offered[8] to patients > 40 years of age or those for whom sterilisation is not an obstacle. It may be required for those with severe infection and uncontrolled bleeding.

Choriocarcinoma arising in the testicle is rare, malignant and highly resistant to chemotherapy. The same is true of choriocarcinoma arising in the ovary. Testicular choriocarcinoma has the worst prognosis of all germ-cell cancers.[9]

Additional images


  1. ^ "choriocarcinoma" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  2. ^ Rosenberg S, DePinho RA, Weinberg RE, DeVita VT, Lawrence TS (2008). DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg's Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology. Hagerstwon, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.  
  3. ^ Kufe D (2000). Benedict RC, Holland JF, ed. Cancer medicine (5th ed.). Hamilton, Ont: B.C. Decker.  
  4. ^ Gerson RF, Lee EY, Gorman E (November 2007). "Primary extrauterine ovarian choriocarcinoma mistaken for ectopic pregnancy: sonographic imaging findings". AJR Am J Roentgenol 189 (5): W280–3.  
  5. ^ Ozdemir I, Demirci F, Yucel O, Demirci E, Alper M (May 2004). "Pure ovarian choriocarcinoma: a difficult diagnosis of an unusual tumor presenting with acute abdomen in a 13-year-old girl". Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 83 (5): 504–5.  
  6. ^ Rustin GJ, Newlands ES, Begent RH, Dent J, Bagshawe KD (1989). "Weekly alternating etoposide, methotrexate, and actinomycin/vincristine and cyclophosphamide chemotherapy for the treatment of CNS metastases of choriocarcinoma". J. Clin. Oncol. 7 (7): 900–3.  
  7. ^ Katzung, Bertram G. (2006). "Cancer Chemotherapy". Basic and clinical pharmacology (10th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Medical Publishing Division.  
  8. ^ Lurain JR, Singh DK, Schink JC (2006). "Role of surgery in the management of high-risk gestational trophoblastic neoplasia". The Journal of reproductive medicine 51 (10): 773–6.  
  9. ^ Verville, Kathleen M. (2009). Testicular Cancer.  

External links

  • Information, personal stories, and support groups for women who have been diagnosed with molar pregnancy or choriocarcinoma.
  • 00976 at CHORUS

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