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Cervical Cancer & Pregnancy – By Dr. Suneetha, Radiation Oncologist, American Oncology Institute

Priorities change, expectations from life and partner change. Women disorganize their lives to organize a new life. In these emotional times if a new expecting mom is diagnosed with cancer and that too in the child bearing uterus, the whole world comes to a standstill and words cannot express that grief.

Pregnancy complicated with cervical cancer is very rare. About 1 to 3# of women suffering from cervical cancer are diagnosed either in pregnancy or immediately postpartum and majority of patients present with complaints of bleeding per vaginum. Often this is mistaken for threatened abortion.

Once a patient comes with these symptoms, they will be immediately evaluated for confirmation of diagnosis with a biopsy from the cancerous mass with some basic blood tests and all the X-Rays and CT scans are contraindicated in pregnancy. For staging the patient, an ultrasound or MRI abdomen would be advised.

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Treatment of cervical cancer depends on different stages of cancer, the term or stage of pregnancy and as well as on the wishes of the mother. A pre-invasive cancer treatment can wait till the pregnancy is completed but if preservation of pregnancy is not contemplated, then termination of pregnancy followed by surgery or chem0-radiation according to the stage of the disease is advised.

Majority of the patients present in early stage of the disease continue the pregnancy by delaying the treatment till baby matures and attempt a caesarean section to deliver the baby.

In this period to keep the disease under control, patients are given chemotherapy drugs which can be safely given during pregnancy. Curing the disease is the main objective, and the maternal survival should not be compromised in favour of holding the pregnancy while at the same time giving a fair chance to the little one to see the sunlight.

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