Many women who find out they have cancer when pregnant have to decide between whether to save their life or the baby’s, because it was previously believed that chemo is not possible during pregnancy. Now researchers are saying women may be able to undergo chemotherapy during surgery.
CBS news reports on chemotherapy during pregnancy. Researchers are saying that women no longer have to choose between their own life and their baby’s life.
A new study this week looked at the after effects of chemotherapy on babies whose mothers were given treatment for cancer during pregnancy. These circumstances are not common; experts say only about one in 1,000 expectant moms are diagnosed with cancer during pregnancy. However the issue has gotten slightly more common now as women are having babies later today, and cancers are being diagnosed earlier.
CBS talks about 39-year-old Gina who received a happy surprise in April. She found out that she was pregnant with her third child; but Gina had symptoms that led her physician to perform a colonoscopy.
Gina talked about her doctor’s visit with CBS, she said, “The doctor told me ‘Gina, you're looking at cancer’. He knew right away. It was big.”
Gina was staying strong through surgery and chemotherapy. Unfortunately the prognosis for Gina’s baby was not a good one.
She told CBS, “They wanted me to know that most likely the baby wasn't going to survive. Several doctors told us to terminate the pregnancy.”
Doctors do have a valid fear that treatments like chemotherapy will harm the rapidly developing and growing fetus. Most of the baby’s organs develop during the first trimester; therefore doctors try to avoid giving women chemo during that time.
How was the new study conducted?
Researchers in Europe followed almost 130 children whose mothers were treated for cancer primarily during their second or third trimesters. Despite the fact that 79 of the children were born before full term, they had normal physical and cognitive development up to the age of three.
Experts are saying that the placenta can act as a protective filter, depending on the type of chemo being administered.
Gina and her husband decided to keep their baby while also aggressively treating her cancer. Gina asked for an ultrasound right after undergoing colon surgery.
Gina said, “I didn't want to lose her. I was so happy to hear her heartbeat. It was the best thing.” However Gina still needed chemotherapy. She has had nine rounds so far but was still able to deliver baby Gianna Hope Neri on Friday, November 6th. The baby was born looking healthy and weighed in at 6 pounds and 9 ounces.
Gina told CBS, “She is perfect in every way.” The couple is extremely happy and look forward to a bright future for baby Gianna Hope.