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Molar Pregnancy - Topic Overview

How is a molar pregnancy diagnosed?

Your doctor can confirm a molar pregnancy with:

Your doctor can also find a molar pregnancy during a routine ultrasound in early pregnancy. Partial molar pregnancies are often found when a woman is treated for an incomplete miscarriage.

What are the risks of having a molar pregnancy?

A molar pregnancy can cause heavy bleeding from the uterus.

Some molar pregnancies lead to gestational trophoblastic disease, a growth of abnormal tissue inside the uterus. Sometimes this tissue keeps growing after the molar pregnancy is removed.

  • Complete molar pregnancies: Out of 1000 cases of complete molar pregnancy, 150 to 200 develop trophoblastic disease that keeps growing after the tissue is removed. This means that in the other 800 to 850 cases, this doesn't happen.
  • Partial molar pregnancies: Out of 1000 cases of partial molar pregnancy, about 50 develop trophoblastic disease. This means that in 950 cases out of 1000, this doesn't happen.

Almost all women who get this cancer are cured with treatment.

In a few cases, trophoblastic disease turns into cancer. In rare cases, the abnormal tissue can spread to other parts of the body.

How is it treated?

When you have a molar pregnancy, you need treatment right away to remove all of the growth from your uterus. The growth is removed with a procedure called vacuum aspiration.

If you are done having children, you may decide to have your uterus removed (hysterectomy) instead of having a vacuum aspiration to treat your molar pregnancy.

After treatment, you will have regular blood tests to look for signs of trophoblastic disease. These blood tests will be done over the next 6 to 12 months. If you still have your uterus, you will need to use birth control for the next 6 to 12 months so you don't get pregnant. It is very important to see your doctor for all follow-up visits.

If you do get trophoblastic disease, there's a small chance that it will turn into cancer. But your doctor will likely find it early so it can be cured with chemotherapy. In the rare case when the cancer has had time to spread to other parts of the body, more chemotherapy is needed, sometimes combined with radiation treatment.

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