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Birla Fertility & IVF
Birla Fertility & IVF

Explain about Pregnancy Cancer

  • Published on September 26, 2022
Explain about Pregnancy Cancer

Pregnancy Cancer: Meaning and Effects 

What is pregnancy cancer? 

Pregnancy cancer refers to cancer that you get when you are pregnant. It can also refer to a case where you are already pregnant, and you get cancer (pregnancy after cancer). 

It is usually rare to get cancer while you are pregnant. Pregnancy cancer is more common in women who undergo pregnancy at an older age. 

The most common type of pregnancy cancer is breast cancer. There are certain other types of pregnancy cancer that occur more often in younger mothers: 

These include the following:

  • Melanoma
  • Lymphomas
  • Cervical cancer
  • Leukaemia 

In most cases of pregnancy cancer, pregnancy does not affect the spread of cancer in your body. However, in rare cases, hormonal changes during pregnancy may stimulate certain cancers such as melanoma. 

After delivery, doctors will check the baby and observe it for some time to ensure that the child does not need cancer treatment. 

How does cancer treatment affect pregnancy? 

Pregnancy cancer usually does not affect the foetus. In rare instances, certain cancers have been passed on to babies from the mothers.

However, certain cancer treatments may come with a risk of affecting the foetus. The effects of cancer treatments on pregnancy are explained below. 


Surgery (to remove cancerous tumours) is mostly considered a safe treatment option for pregnancy cancer, especially after the first trimester.

In the case of breast cancer, if you have to get a mastectomy (surgery of the breasts) or undergo radiation in that area, it can affect your ability to breastfeed. 

Chemotherapy and Medications

Chemotherapy and other cancer medications are used to destroy cancer cells. The harsh chemical substances can harm the foetus, cause congenital disabilities, or a miscarriage in certain instances. 

This is especially the case if used during the first trimester. 

Certain chemotherapy and anti-cancer drugs can be used safely during the second and third trimesters. 


Radiation uses high-energy X-rays in order to destroy cancer cells in your body. This can be harmful to the unborn child, especially during the first trimester. 

In certain cases, radiation may be safely used in the second or third trimester. However, this depends on the type and dose of radiation and the area of the body being treated. 

It would be best to discuss with your doctor in detail to determine the best treatment option for you and ensure your pregnancy is not affected. 


Pregnancy cancer can affect your health, your pregnancy, and the condition of the growing foetus. 

If you have cancer (or are at risk of getting cancer) and want to have a child, you may want to avoid going through pregnancy. Fertility treatment like IVF (in vitro fertilisation) can be a helpful alternative.

For the best fertility treatment, visit Birla Fertility and IVF or book an appointment with Dr. Neha Prasad. 


1. Can a pregnancy give you cancer?

No, pregnancy usually cannot give you cancer. However, there is one type of rare cancer that is associated with pregnancy. It is called gestational trophoblastic disease, and it manifests in the form of tumours that develop during the early stages of pregnancy. 

2. What is the most common cancer in pregnancy?

The most common pregnancy cancer is breast cancer. It occurs in 1 out of every 3,000 pregnant women. 

Cancers like melanoma and leukaemia affect young people more often.

3. How is cancer detected in pregnancy?

Pregnancy cancer is detected with the help of pap tests, biopsies, imaging scans like ultrasound, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), CT (computer tomography) scan, and X-rays. Your oncologist will also consider your symptoms.

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