Q: What if I become pregnant when I have ovarian cancer?
A: When you have ovarian cancer pregnancy is something that should be avoided if at all possible until you have been treated successfully. This is not necessarily due to the effects of the cancer on the baby as cancer is not communicable, but it does have a lot to do with the treatment options for mom.
As many as 1 out of every 18,000 pregnancies result in a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. The detection is usually in the first stage of the cancer due to the care being sought for the pregnancy. Depending upon the look of the ovary during ultrasound, the doctor may choose to wait and watch the ovary or remove the ovary immediately.
It is commonly assumed that waiting until the second trimester is the best choice for the health of the fetus. Surgery during the first trimester carries an increased risk of fetal abortion.
Not all masses found during ultrasound are ovarian cancer. Some masses are referred to as functional cysts. These cysts are common during pregnancy and are related to the change in hormones after the egg is fertilized and implanted in the uterus. If ovarian cancer is diagnosed, the obstetrician will work with an oncologist to determine the best plan of action based on the symptoms and the size of the cancer.
After the first trimester is over, the ovarian cancer can be treated with chemotherapy. Chemotherapy can cause a smaller than average baby size, but once the organs have formed, there is little risk to the baby as long as the chemotherapy drugs used are approved for use during pregnancy.