Infantile choriocarcinoma, Re-examination of a potentially curable entity

Author(s): Belchis DA, Mowry J, Davis JH


Choriocarcinoma presenting in an infant or neonate is a rare entity that in the past has been uniformly fatal. The authors present the first reported case of choriocarcinoma successfully treated in a 3-week-old infant. Choriocarcinoma was not suspected in this case until pathologic examination revealed the diagnosis. In retrospect, however, the case fits well into the classic “infantile choriocarcinoma syndrome” initially described by Witzleben in 1968. Review of additional cases reported since the initial description validates Witzleben's initial observations and also indicates that the original definition should be broadened to include other significant presentations of the disease not initially appreciated, specifically anemic infants with central nervous system symptoms as well as newborns and older children. The importance of making a correct and rapid diagnosis is emphasized by the successful outcome in this case where aggressive surgery and subsequent chemotherapy have been curative. Serum beta-human chorionic gonadotropin (β-HCG) levels have been uniformly positive, providing easy confirmation of the diagnosis. Because the mother can also be affected, an appropriate diagnosis of the infant may also lead to more rapid diagnosis and treatment of the mother.

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