The news of pregnancy (Read about Can I get pregnant after treatment of cervical cancer) may give you the butterflies in your stomach. But being diagnosed with cervical cancer during pregnancy can be very distressing. There are only a small number of cervical cancers cases detected in pregnant women. Most of these (70%) are Stage I cancers. There are various factors on which the treatment plan depends:
- Tumor size
- If nearby lymph nodes have cancer
- How far along the pregnancy is
- The specific type of cervical cancer
Wondering when should you go for diagnosis and what is the sign of cervical cancer during pregnancy? The normal pregnant cervix typically contains Cervix ectropion which is accompanied by inflammation. This inflammation is often mistaken as abnormality. It is recommended to all the pregnant women to go for Pap test during their initial prenatal period. As, Women with a normal Pap test do not require further evaluation during pregnancy. Abnormal pap results require further assessment.
Let’s talk about the treatment of Cervical cancer during the different stages of pregnancy and how to make decision about your and your baby’s life. Planning treatment during Pregnancy requires expert advice: doctors specialised in oncology and obstetrics. They can jointly compare the best treatment available according to the condition of the woman.
First Trimester of the pregnancy:
If the cancer is detected in the first 3 months of the pregnancy, your Doctor may suggest you to treat the cancer straight away. Because Your Doctor may feel it would be harmful for you to leave the cancer growing in the next 6 months, which is true because leaving cancerous cell untreated for this long may be life threatening. If you decide to go for treatment in this stage you might need to end your pregnancy. This requires an open discussion with the doctor and clear understanding of the risks.
Second Trimester or Third Trimester:
During the second or third trimester of pregnancy, Most of the Doctors suggest to have the baby early by Caesarean section. Your womb may have to be removed at the same time. Because, you may need further treatment with chemo and radiotherapy. Discuss with your doctor and understand the pros and cons of the treatment.
For Small Tumours:
In case of small tumours your Doctor may talk to you about treatment with cone biopsy or trachelectomy. Which means removing most of the cervix and the upper part of the Vagina. Discuss the threat to the baby and potential effects of the treatment on your health with your doctor.
For Larger Tumours:
You can not have chemotherapy during the first 3 months of pregnancy as it can lead to miscarriage. Experts suggest to have chemotherapy to shrink the cancer until the baby is born. Research says chemotherapy after the first trimester of pregnancy has so far not shown an increased risk of birth defects. But there is always need to collect more information to understand more about the outlook for children.
Making a Decision
Making decisions during your pregnancy about your own health as well as for your baby would be very distressing. It is always suggested to take your time and come to a wise decision. Make use of every consultation with Doctors and get your doubts cleared. Discuss with your Partner and Parents for their suggestions. Prioritize your own health first and decide.
Questions to ask your Doctor
- Do I need any special test to be done?
- How will you work with my obstetrician?
- Which treatment plan do you recommend?
- Is it safe to continue pregnancy?
- How much my health would be affected if I delay treatment of cancer after delivery?
- Will I be able to breastfeed?
- What other options are available other than chemotherapy or radiotherapy? etc