The optimal management of brain metastases from gestational trophoblastic neoplasia

Expert Rev Anticancer Ther. 2022 Mar;22(3):307-315. doi: 10.1080/14737140.2022.2038566. Epub 2022 Feb 13.


Introduction: Gestational trophoblastic diseases and neoplasias (GTDs and GTNs) comprise a spectrum of diseases arising from abnormally proliferating placental/trophoblastic tissue following an antecedent molar or non-molar pregnancy. These can spread to the brain hematogenously in about 10% of patients, mostly in high-risk disease. The optimal management of patients with brain metastases from GTN is unclear, with multiple systemic regimens under use and an uncertain role for radiotherapy.

Areas covered: Here, we review the epidemiology, workup, and treatment of GTN with central nervous system (CNS) involvement. Literature searches in PubMed and Google Scholar were conducted using combinations of keywords such as 'gestational trophoblastic disease,' 'gestational trophoblastic neoplasia,' 'choriocarcinoma,' and 'brain metastases.'

Expert opinion: Systemic therapy is the frontline treatment for GTN with brain metastases, and radiotherapy should only be considered in the context of a clinical trial or for resistant/recurrent disease. Surgery has a limited role in palliating symptoms or relieving intracranial pressure/bleeding. Given the highly specialized care these patients require, treatment at a high-volume referral center with multidisciplinary collaboration likely leads to better outcomes. Randomized trials should be conducted to determine the best systemic therapy option for GTN.

Keywords: EMA-CO; Gestational trophoblastic neoplasia; brain metastases; choriocarcinoma; whole-brain radiation therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms* / secondary
  • Brain Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Female
  • Gestational Trophoblastic Disease* / diagnosis
  • Gestational Trophoblastic Disease* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Placenta / pathology
  • Pregnancy