5 Facts you need to know about cancer during pregnancy

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Moms and moms-to-be, here are important, medically supported facts that you need to know about the big C during pregnancy

Finding out you're going to become a mom is exciting, but what if the doctor tells you that she found something else? Something that will turn the news quickly bittersweet?

Finding out you have cancer while pregnant can be scary, it can cause anxiety and worry about your child's future as well as your own. In the past, finding out you have cancer when you're expecting can feel hopeless. Though more research is needed, scientists have made helpful discoveries regarding the condition.

Here are some quick facts about cancer during pregnancy, which moms and moms-to-be should know.

1. Cancer during pregnancy is rare

Getting cancer while pregnant is uncommon, around 1 in 1,000 pregnant women are diagnosed. The most common of which are breast cancer, cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, malignant melanoma, and leukemia.

2. Pregnancy can delay a cancer diagnosis

Pregnancy brings about many changes, which can often mask certain symptoms. In fact, says Cancer.ca, nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating, rectal bleeding, fatigue and headaches are cancer symptoms that can also be related to pregnancy.

Their advice is to consult your doctor if a certain symptom persists past a trimester when it is still considered typical.

photo: shutterstock

3. Most forms of chemotherapy are "relatively" safe

Though chemotherapy is still possible for diagnosed moms-to-be, some treatments can be risky during the first trimester. In the past, health practitioners would recommend terminating the pregnancy in order to undergo chemo. But these days, careful consideration of the type, location, and stage of cancer as well as the baby's gestational age, before coming up with a treatment plan, which could include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery.

Each treatment is tailored to suit the needs and wishes of the mom-to-be.

4. Breastfeeding is discouraged during chemotherapy

Although cancer cells cannot be passed on through breastmilk, chemo, hormone and targeted therapy drugs can be passed on from mother to child during breastfeeding. This is why most doctors advise against it. For thyroid cancer, specifically, radioactive iodine, which is used during treatment, can easily be ingested by the infant through her moms' breastmilk.

5. Having a healthy pregnancy after pregnancy is still possible

For most cancer survivors, pregnancy after treatment is considered safe for mom and baby. Pregnancy itself doesn't put a woman more at risk of relapse, but some doctors may still advise to wait a few years, depending on a woman's age, type/stage of cancer, and the type of treatment she underwent.

About 6 months after chemotherapy, most doctors give the go-signal for couples to try getting pregnant again, as it's been found that "damaged egg cells" leave the body over a period of 6 months.

We hope you found this information helpful. Do you have anything to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!

READ: 15 Cancer signs in children that you might be ignoring

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