Articles

Things to know about cancer in pregnancy

by Jaci Cohen Cancer Activist

Cancer has been a baffling disease for humans since many years, with its cure still not being available. It generally tends to raise a lot of questions in the minds of the affected person and his or her close ones, as well as among doctors themselves. A lot of women diagnosed with cancer have only one question in their minds- How will I handle cancer in pregnancy?

One of the positive aspects of cancer is that it occurrence during the pregnancy period is very rare. As per research around the world, only 1 in 1000 women have been found to be diagnosed with cancer in pregnancy. It gets difficult to pinpoint the symptoms during pregnancy because some of these problems are also normal during this time. Common changes noticed during this period are:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Fatigue

  • Headaches

  • Bloating

  • Rectal bleeding

  • Changes in the breast 

Due to the overlap of symptoms, diagnosis during this period tends to get delayed. 

Regular communication with the obstetrician 

The best opportunity for this cancer to be detected on time is to maintain an open line of communication with the care team.  If a pregnant woman feels any abnormality, she needs to inform the team, her obstetrician, and any other specialist if necessary.

Common cancers among pregnant women

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer found among pregnant women. Other types of cancers may include:

  • Thyroid cancer

  • Cervical cancer

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

  • Hodgkin lymphoma

  • Gestational trophoblastic tumor

  • Melanoma

In general, any kind of cancer could be seen in pregnancy, but the above types are more visible young women. 

Does cancer affect the baby?

In most cases, cancer in pregnancy does not affect the baby. If given within the first trimester of pregnancy, chemotherapy has chances of causing pregnancy loss or birth defects. It would be better idea to administer chemotherapy after the completion of the first trimester, although there are risks such as babies being relatively small for their gestational ages, and premature birth. Although it is important to be aware of the above risks, they are not common.

In general, the treatment of breast cancer during pregnancy is entirely dependent on the following factors:

  1. Location of the tumor

  2. Size of the tumor

  3. How far has the tumor spread

  4. Overall health

  5. How far has the mother progressed in pregnancy

  6. Personal preferences of the mother

Once birth has taken place, regular treatment for cancer can be continued. However, the mother must not carry out breastfeeding during this time as harmful chemicals could be transported to the baby. 

Surgery in pregnancy is safe

Surgery to remove the tumor in the breast and the nearby lymph nodes is necessary during early breast cancer, and is considered safe during pregnancy. Options for the surgeon would include:

  • Removal of the entire breast, also known as mastectomy

  • Removal of the part of the breast which has the tumor

Apart from the above, one or more lymph nodes would require removal from the armpit to check for spread of cancer.

Reference Read:

Concerns About Pregnancy And Fertility Preservation In Breast Cancer Patients


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About Jaci Cohen Junior   Cancer Activist

2 connections, 0 recommendations, 11 honor points.
Joined APSense since, February 19th, 2020, From Los Angeles, United States.

Created on Aug 3rd 2020 01:45. Viewed 93 times.

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