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When cancer patients suddenly have a positive pregnancy test
  1. Daniela Groza1,2,
  2. Donat Duerr3,
  3. Mathias Schmid4,
  4. Beatrix Boesch4
  1. 1 Internal Medicine, Stadtspital Triemli, Zurich, Switzerland
  2. 2 Oncology, Stadtsspital Triemli, Zürich, Switzerland
  3. 3 Department of Oncology, Stadtspital Triemli, Zurich, Switzerland
  4. 4 Stadtspital Triemli, Zurich, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr. Daniela Groza, dr.daniela.groza{at}


We present the case of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in a 48-year-old woman with an active history of smoking. The patient initially presented to her general practitioner with a progressive swelling on the neck. Further investigations diagnosed a metastatic lung tumour, and palliative chemotherapy was started. After 5 months of treatment, by newly reported amenorrhoea, cautiously before a restaging CT scan of the abdomen, a pregnancy test was performed and was positive. Both the gynaecological examination and the hormonal panel yielded no signs of pregnancy. Immunohistochemically, staining of the tumour was strongly positive for β-subunit of human chorionic gonadotropin (β-hCG) suggesting that the tumour was responsible for high β-hCG levels.

Paraneoplastic β-hCG secretion from adenocarcinomas is rare. In the literature, only a few such cases have been reported. Previous studies suggested that the ability to secrete β-hCG in tumours may correlate to some extent to chemoresistance and thus, to a worse prognosis.

  • Lung cancer (oncology)
  • Pathology

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  • Contributors All the authors were involved in the diagnosis and treatment of the patient. DG, under the supervision of MS, was responsible for treating the patient in the hospital setting. DD was the oncologist treating the patient in an ambulant setting. BB was the pathologist who diagnosed the cancer and the β-hCG tumour secretion.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained from next of kin.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.