Home Health The doctors thought I was pregnant despite my husband’s vasectomy; It turned out to be one of the rarest female cancers in history.

The doctors thought I was pregnant despite my husband’s vasectomy; It turned out to be one of the rarest female cancers in history.

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Courtney Snalium was 23 years old when doctors mistook her extremely rare cancer (placental site trophoblastic tumor) for pregnancy.

A mother of three warned how her rare uterine cancer was mistaken for pregnancy, despite her husband’s vasectomy months earlier.

In 2009, 23-year-old Courtney Snalium of Texas was waiting at an urgent care center for a case of bronchitis when she fainted.

Even though her husband had just had a vasectomy the year before, the doctors insisted on ordering a pregnancy test, saying it was standard procedure at the hospital. Surprisingly, it turned out positive.

However, Ms. Snalium’s levels of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), which is produced by the placenta during pregnancy to thicken the uterine wall, were low for a pregnant woman: about 20 times lower than they should have been. been.

While she and the doctors were confused for months, the theology student eventually underwent additional testing and was eventually diagnosed with placental site trophoblastic tumor (PSTT), a disease so rare that only 300 cases have been recorded in the medical literature. .

Courtney Snalium was 23 years old when doctors mistook her extremely rare cancer (placental site trophoblastic tumor) for pregnancy.

After her positive pregnancy test, doctors suggested that Ms. Snalium, now 39, have additional blood tests to make sure her HCG levels were rising normally, but she decided against it.

“I’ve already had three perfect pregnancies and I thought this one would probably be fine too,” Snalium said in a TikTok video.

However, an OB/GYN urged her to have more tests, and a week later, Mrs. Snalium’s HCG was 12 (unchanged from her first test) even though it normally doubles every two days during pregnancy.

“The doctor says: “I asked my colleagues. “None of us know what this could be, but one thing we know for sure is that you don’t actually have a viable pregnancy,” he said.

“We scheduled an ultrasound and nothing showed up on the ultrasound.”

Thinking the pregnancy was not viable, doctors performed a dilation and curettage (D&C), a procedure that removes tissue from the uterus. It can be used in cases of spontaneous abortion or to terminate a pregnancy within the first trimester.

Three months after her positive pregnancy test, the results of her D&C led Ms. Snalium to finally be diagnosed with trophoblastic tumor of the placental site (TTSP), which forms from leftover cells that bind the placenta to the uterine wall during pregnancy.

Because leftover cells form from the placenta, small amounts of the pregnancy hormone HCG are released, which appears as a positive pregnancy test.

Despite her positive pregnancy test, levels of the pregnancy hormone HCG did not increase normally, Snalium said. Their levels were 20 times lower than they should have been.

Despite her positive pregnancy test, levels of the pregnancy hormone HCG did not increase normally, Snalium said. Their levels were 20 times lower than they should have been.

Doctors were able to treat her cancer by performing a hysterectomy, in which the uterus and often the cervix are removed. Some 15 years later, Mrs. Snalium is cancer-free

Doctors were able to treat her cancer by performing a hysterectomy, in which the uterus and often the cervix are removed. Some 15 years later, Mrs. Snalium is cancer-free

She said: “I had one of the rarest female cancers there is.”

“What makes these tumors unique is that they do not respond to chemotherapy. Most cancers are rapidly dividing cells, and chemotherapy attacks rapidly dividing cells.

“But this one grows very slowly, so the prognosis depends entirely on when they detect it.”

If PSTT is caught before it spreads, it can be successfully cured with a hysterectomy, a surgery that removes a woman’s uterus and cervix.

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However, if the cancer spreads (this form usually reaches the lungs) “the prognosis is very poor,” Ms. Snalium said.

Experts estimate that cancer spreads in about 30 percent of cases and tumors can be found between one and 14 years after pregnancy.

Cancer can also spread to the liver, lymph nodes, and brain.

There is no confirmed survival rate for the cancer because it is so rare, but doctors estimate it can range from 30 percent if it has spread throughout the body to up to 90 percent if it has remained localized.

Doctors estimated that Snalium’s tumor had been growing for about 18 months and, in another six months, it would likely have spread.

“I had no symptoms,” he said. “A little spotting (vaginal bleeding), but nothing that would have been cause for concern.”

Typical symptoms of PSTT include abnormal vaginal bleeding or amenorrhea, missed periods.

‘It was a surprising discovery that only happened because I had a case of bronchitis that was so bad it made me faint. “There was no relationship,” Ms. Snalium added.

Doctors performed a hysterectomy and checked Ms. Snalium’s blood periodically for elevated levels of HCG or other abnormalities.

Fifteen years later, she is still cancer-free, adding, “I love making fun of my husband by telling him he had a vasectomy for nothing.”

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