Family Magazine

Treating Cancer While Pregnant

By Newsanchormom

Treating Cancer while Pregnant
Did you know it's becoming more common for women to find out they have cancer while they're pregnant? According to this CNN article, it has nothing to do with estrogen or hormones. It may be because women are waiting longer to get pregnant and women are more likely to get cancer as they age. And I have always thought if you have a fast growing tumor, you either have to hold having chemotherapy or you have to abort the baby. That's not true in most cases! I am thrilled by this advancement. Did you know this? What do you think? Here's a really interested article on CNN about women finding out they have breast cancer when they are newly pregnant. One woman was told by her general practitioner it was a clogged milk duct at 7 weeks gestation. That makes no sense to me because your milk obviously hasn't come in yet. Other than that strange diagnosis, it's a great survival story!

Cancer of any kind is found in an estimated 1 in 1,000 pregnancies, making it relatively rare. But the incidence of cancer in pregnant women appears to be on the rise, probably because of the growing number of women who delay childbearing.

"As women age, their odds of developing cancer go up -- so if they wait until their 30s or 40s to have a baby, it's more likely that a pregnancy and a cancer diagnosis will happen at the same time," explains Jennifer Litton, M.D., a breast medical oncologist at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, who treated Jessica Denton.

Litton adds, "The good news is that we can treat the woman without harming the fetus." For the most part, that means proceeding with cancer treatment even as the pregnancy continues.

This wasn't always the case. Not so long ago, women were routinely advised to delay treatment until after the baby was born -- or to terminate the pregnancy and begin the regimen immediately, out of concern that pregnancy would promote the growth of the cancer and even put the woman's life at risk.

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