How Choriocarcinoma Is Treated

Choriocarcinoma is a fast-growing cancer that usually forms inside the uterus from abnormal tissue formed when a sperm fertilizes an egg. In very rare cases, a non-gestational type of this cancer can develop in a testicle or an ovary.

For better outcomes, it is important to evaluate your options with your medical team and start the treatment process as soon as possible. Choriocarcinoma treatment usually includes chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapy.

Treatment will depend on your overall health and how far the cancer has advanced. This article will explain more about your treatment options for choriocarcinoma.

Patient undergoing chemo


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Chemotherapy

The most common treatment for choriocarcinoma is chemotherapy. This type of medicine is given by pill or intravenously (IV). It can kill cancer cells and stop them from spreading to other parts of your body. Sometimes chemotherapy and surgery are combined.

Chemotherapy drug options include:

  • Otrexup, Rasuvo, Rheumatrex, Trexall (methotrexate)
  • Cosmegen (dactinomycin)
  • Platinol (cisplatin)
  • VP-16 (etoposide)
  • Cytoxan, Neosar (cyclophosphamide)
  • Oncovin (vincristine)

Chemotherapy may have the following side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Risk of infection
  • Hair loss
  • Appetite loss
  • Mouth sores

Surgery

In some cases, choriocarcinoma treatment requires surgical procedures. Surgery may be necessary if your cancer has:

  • Spread to other parts of the body
  • Reached an advanced stage
  • Not responded to other treatments

You may need:

  • Suction dilation and curettage (D&C) to remove cancerous tissues in the uterus
  • Hysterectomy to remove the uterus and/or cervix
  • Hysterectomy to remove the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes
  • Surgery to remove tumors in other parts of the body

Surgery side effects may include:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Risk of infection
  • Scarring
  • Cramping

Radiation Therapy

Usually, radiation therapy (high-energy beams that are directed at the tumor to kill cancer cells) is only necessary if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the brain or lungs. Your medical team will work with you to decide if you need radiation treatment.

Radiation therapy may have the following side effects:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Skin changes
  • Hair loss

Home Remedies and Lifestyle

There are no specific home remedies or lifestyle changes that can treat or cure choriocarcinoma. Since choriocarcinoma is a fast-growing cancer, it is important to focus on the medically approved treatments that can help. However, you may benefit from home remedies or lifestyle changes to deal with the side effects of surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.  

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Therapies

Although there are no over-the-counter therapies for treating choriocarcinoma, you may need to take some OTC medications to deal with surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. Always talk to your healthcare provider before taking any OTC drugs when you are being treated for cancer.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

There are no approved nontraditional or alternative therapies for choriocarcinoma. There are also no approved alternative adjunctive treatments or adjunct therapy, which is the addition of another treatment used together with a primary treatment.

Summary

Your treatment options for choriocarcinoma may include chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapy. There are no approved home remedies, OTC therapies, or alternative medicine treatments for this cancer.

A Word From Verywell

As you evaluate your treatment options, consider getting a second opinion and asking a friend or family member to join you at appointments for support. You'll want to be comfortable with the treatment plan you ultimately select.

The treatment process for choriocarcinoma can take time and be stressful. You may want to join a cancer support group to share your experiences and feelings. Support groups can help you feel less alone and provide resources to manage your care.  

The outlook after treatment for people with choriocarcinoma tends to be positive, with many people going into remission or being cured. Many are able to have children in the future, as well. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are there any approved vitamins, minerals, or herbs for choriocarcinoma?

    The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) does not approve of any vitamins, minerals, or herbs to treat this type of cancer. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking any prescription or OTC products because they can interact with your treatment.

  • Does everyone need a hysterectomy to treat choriocarcinoma?

    Hysterectomies are a rare treatment choice for choriocarcinoma. Your medical team will determine if you need one after exploring other options.

  • Can choriocarcinoma come back after treatment?

    It is possible for this type of cancer to return after you receive treatment.

  • How will the medical team determine the treatment plan?

    You will work with your medical team to find the best treatment plan. The process will depend on your:

     

    • Cancer stage
    • Spread of cancer
    • Tumor size
    • Age
    • Overall health
  • Are there clinical trials for choriocarcinoma?

    At different times, there may be clinical trials you can join for choriocarcinoma. You may be able to join a clinical trial before, during, or after treatment for cancer starts. It is important to remember that not everyone qualifies for a trial, and the treatments may not work. Talk to your healthcare provider and check the National Cancer Institute website for more information.

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4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. MedlinePlus. Choriocarcinoma. Updated September 1, 2021.

  2. Merck Manual. Gestational trophoblastic disease. Updated September 2020.

  3. National Cancer Institute. Gestational trophoblastic disease treatment (PDQ®)–health professional version. Updated July 31, 2020.

  4. American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Gestational trophoblastic disease: types of treatment. Updated November 2020.