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What is a Molar Pregnancy? Print E-mail
Written by Adrian Wozniak   
Wednesday, 28 October 2009

A molar pregnancy occurs when a fetus is not able to fully form in the uterus. Instead, the fetal tissue becomes a tumor.

What is going on in the body?

In the US, a molar pregnancy occurs in 1 out of every 2,000 pregnancies. In this condition, fetal cells have an abnormal genetic makeup and form a tumor. This tumor, or "mole," can grow and even spread to other parts of a mother's body. In some cases, the mole may turn into a more dangerous cancer called choriocarcinoma.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?
In this condition, abnormal fetal tissue inside a woman's uterus forms a tumor. The exact reason this occurs is not known. Common risk factors for this condition include:
- a recent full-term pregnancy, abortion, miscarriage, or ectopic pregnancy
- a previous molar pregnancy
- being of Asian or Mexican descent
- being younger than 20 or older than 40 years of age
- being poor
- a diet that is low in protein, folate, or beta-carotene

 What are the treatments for the condition?
In most cases, the main treatment is a procedure called a dilation and curettage (D&C). This involves removing all the contents of the inside of the uterus with a special tool. In women who do not want any more children, a hysterectomy, or the removal of the uterus, may be advised.

If the tumor has spread to other areas of the body, chemotherapy and sometimes radiation therapy is usually advised.

What are the side effects of the treatments?
If a hysterectomy or a D&C is done, the side effects may include bleeding, infection, and scarring of the uterus. Chemotherapy can cause stomach upset, nausea, weakness, and other side effects.

What happens after treatment for the condition?
A woman is advised to take it easy for a few days after a D&C. A hysterectomy usually requires a few weeks of recovery. The woman should be alert for any unusual bleeding after surgery.

After all types of treatment, the level of HCG in the blood is checked regularly to make sure it returns to normal. If the level of HCG stays high or becomes high again in the future, this may mean that the tumor has spread or come back. Birth control should be used for at least 1 year after treatment. This is because pregnancy, by raising the level of HCG, can make it hard to detect if the tumor has come back.

How is the condition monitored?
Regular chest x-rays and pelvic exams are often advised. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.


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