Cancer doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you are young or old, a good person or a mean one. Cancer doesn’t care where you live or how much money you earn or what values & religious beliefs you hold. And cancer doesn’t care if you are in the midst of bringing another life into the world either. Yes, it’s true… pregnant women can be diagnosed with cancer just like anyone else.
Currently, cancer during pregnancy occurs in approximately one out of every 1,000 pregnancies. And as more women delay childbirth until they’re older, the incidence of cancer during pregnancy, particularly breast cancer, is rising. In the meantime, few oncologists or obstetricians treat more than 2 or 3 patients in this situation in an entire career and little research exists to help guide patients and their doctors on different treatment options.
So where can someone turn to get answers to questions about being treated for cancer during pregnancy…
- Hope for Two is an organization dedicated to connecting woman who are pregnant with cancer to other women who have been pregnant with the same type of cancer. Check out the “Survivor Stories” section of their website… it’s AMAZING! They work with HMHB to write guides like this on the side for pregnant mothers as well.
- The Cancer and Pregnancy Registry, which was created by and is currently maintained by Dr. Elyce Cardonick, collects information about the diagnosis, and treatment of cancer in pregnant women. With each patient’s permission, Dr. Cardonick reviews their cancer treatment and pregnancy outcomes. What is unique about this database is that the children are not only followed up until birth, but on an ongoing yearly basis. Pregnant women diagnosed with cancer find the registry helpful in learning how many other pregnant women were diagnosed and treated for the same cancer during pregnancy. Patient data is kept confidential.
- Dr. Elyce Cardonick is also a Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist at Cooper University Hospital in New Jersey and is available to offer guidance to women and/or their physicians. She can work with your oncologist in deciding which tests and procedures can be performed, and when, during pregnancy to maximize the safety of the fetus while not compromising the chance of cure of the mother.
If you know of other good resources to help women who are pregnant and also have cancer, please jot them down as a comment on this blog… Knowledge is power, please share the power…
Read more about the wide variety of available cancer support services.