Gestational Trophoblastic Disease: Risk Factors

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 11/2022

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the factors that increase the chance of developing gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD). Use the menu to see other pages.

What are the risk factors for GTD?

A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing disease. Although risk factors often influence the development of a tumor, most do not directly cause it. Some people with several risk factors never develop a tumor, while others with no known risk factors do. Knowing your risk factors and talking about them with your doctor may help you make more informed lifestyle and health care choices.

The following factors may increase the risk of GTD:

  • Age during pregnancy. Being younger than 20 or older than 35 during pregnancy brings a higher risk of GTD. The risk increases with age.

  • Previous molar pregnancy. A previous molar pregnancy (see Introduction) may increase the risk of developing another GTD.

  • Nutrition/diet. Some studies have linked low levels of carotene and vitamin A in a person’s diet with a higher risk of molar pregnancy.

  • Blood type. Specific blood types — A and AB — may slightly increase the risk of GTD.

  • Family history of molar pregnancy. There have been rare cases of people in the same family having 1 or more molar pregnancies.

The only known way to avoid GTD is to avoid pregnancy. When making such family planning decisions, it is important to remember that GTD is rare. Prior abortion is not a risk factor for developing GTD. People who have had a molar pregnancy in the past or who are worried about GTD for any reason are encouraged to talk with their doctors about the future risk of GTD.

The next section in this guide is Symptoms and Signs. It explains what changes or medical problems GTD can cause. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.