Cancer During Pregnancy

by Dr. Alfredo Hane Jr.


Cancer is one of the most dangerous and deadly illnesses on the planet and can in 2007 alone killed 7.9 million people. It is also one of the great unknowns of the medical world, so little is known about cancer that is can make it very difficult to treat effectively, particularly in late stages.

What is Cancer?

Cancer, often known as a malignant tumour, is a disease involving abnormal cell growth within the body. Cancerous tumours can spread to other areas of the body, making them extremely difficult to treat.There are over 100 different types of cancer known to affect humans and each of these presents symptoms, such as weight loss, stomach pain etc. However, the majority of cancer symptoms could be symptoms of other, wholly unrelated things and thus cancer is difficult to spot.Curative cancers are generally treated with high intensity treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and stem cell transplants.

Cancer During Pregnancy

Cancer during pregnancy is extremely rare and occurs in around 1 out of 1,000 pregnancies. Because of the rarity it has previously been difficult for women and doctors to know how to approach cancer during pregnancy.However in recent times it has become more common for pregnant women to start or continue cancer treatment whilst pregnant so more information is coming to light.Pregnant women with cancer are perfectly capable of giving birth to a healthy foetus, as cancer rarely affects the foetus directly. However treatment can prove problematic as many of the treatment drugs on offer will affect or harm the foetus.Indeed, both chemotherapy and radiotherapy can have a negative effect on the foetus, with surgery being the only definitively safe option. For this reason many pregnant women forgo treatment, risking their own lives to protect their babies.There are websites and many online support groups dedicated to providing a network of aid and advice to women who find themselves pregnant with cancer.


Being diagnosed with any kind of cancer can be a terrifying prospect, but when pregnant it can be doubly terrifying as there are now two lives to consider and hormones make it difficult to control emotions.However, many women who have found themselves pregnant with cancer have given birth to perfectly healthy children and have gone on to battle and survive the cancer and move on with their lives.