Infantile choriocarcinoma: an uncommon and curable tumor

Author(s): Dumesnil C, Gatbois E, Leverger G


Choriocarcinoma is a malignant growth of trophoblastic cells characterized by secretion of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Infantile choriocarcinoma is a very rare tumor, which is a complication of gestational choriocarcinoma and usually had very poor prognosis before chemotherapy was used. We report 1 new case as well as a review of the literature since 1945. Our case report describes the successful treatment by chemotherapy of a newborn with cerebral metastasis. Several features are important: Infantile choriocarcinoma occurs in infants aged 0 to 6 months. Anemia, hepatomegaly and hemorrhagic syndromes are the main symptoms with sometimes cerebral, cutaneous or ear-nose and throat localisations. But diagnosis can be difficult when clinical symptoms are poor. The main diagnostic criterion is a very high plasmatic or urinary level of hCG or β-hCG in the newborn. Histological pattern is not mandatory for diagnosis. Thoracoabdominal CT scan and cerebral MRI are necessary to find metastases. Recommanded treatment is chemotherapy and surgery is discussed when a tumoral residue remains. Post-treatment surveillance is based on clinical and radiological examination as well as negativation of β-hCG. Choriocarcinoma occuring simultaneously in mother and child have been reported. Therefore it is necessary to assay maternel serum β-hCG when infantile choriocarcinoma is disclosed and to assay serum β-hCG in the newborn when the mother has gestational choriocarcinoma. Infantile choriocarcinoma is a very chemosensitive tumor and is thereby potentially curable. Early diagnosis is the most important prognostic factor.

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