What are treatment options if I am diagnosed during pregnancy?
Effective treatment, including surgery and chemotherapy, can be administered during certain times of pregnancy. Treatment will be decided based on the stage of fetus development and the stage of cancer. The use of radiation therapy during the first and second trimester of pregnancy is not recommended due to the inability to shield the baby from the radiation. For women in early stages of cancer, treatment usually consists of a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy in the second trimester. Chemotherapy given after the first trimester does not put the fetus at any greater risk, although low birth weight is sometimes a concern. Women at more advanced stages of cancer have much more difficult choices laid before them as to whether they should delay treatment until after birth or start a less aggressive form of chemotherapy, which may not be affective to fight their cancer. It is important for women facing these choices to discuss possible implications with physicians and specialists, as well as to get support from their friends, family and partners.
You may want to consider participating in a cancer registry which collects information about the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in pregnant women. Dr. Elyce Cardonick, a Maternal Fetal Medicine physician at Cooper University Hospital, collects information about the diagnosis, and treatment of cancer in pregnant women. This information (kept strictly confidential) will help study the effects of a newly diagnosed cancer and treatment, if any, on a concurrent pregnancy. Following the development and behavior of the children after delivery is a long term goal as well.