On rare occasions, cancer coincides with pregnancy. Because the
medicines and radiation used for treating cancer can be dangerous to a fetus,
a pregnant woman and her doctors must weigh a number of factors when planning
her care, including:
In nonpregnant women, surgery may be used to remove cancer,
depending on the cancer's type and location. After surgery to remove cancer,
radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of the two may be used to kill any
remaining cancer cells. When treating a pregnant woman, doctors adjust the
usual treatment regimen with the following in mind.1
Whenever possible, doctors try to delay chemotherapy during pregnancy
to minimize the effects on the fetus. Such decisions depend on how advanced the
cancer is and how quickly it is developing.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer during your pregnancy, you
will be working with a number of health professionals. Ask your cancer
specialist (oncologist) for the name of a licensed medical social worker who
can help support you through your treatment. A social worker can also help
coordinate the various professionals involved with your care.
Burstein HJ, et al. (2011). Malignant tumors of the breast. In VT DeVita Jr et al., eds., DeVita, Hellman and Rosenberg's Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology, 9th ed., vol. 3, pp. 1401–1446. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
July 23, 2012
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
& Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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