Gynecologic cancer in pregnancy


      • Cancer affects 1 in 1000 pregnancies.
      • Diagnostic workup for cancer must be carefully selected and interpreted in pregnancy.
      • Cervical cancer is the most common gynecologic malignancy diagnosed in pregnancy.
      • Surgery and chemotherapy can be appropriately used with preservation of pregnancy.


      Cancer complicates 1 in 1000 pregnancies. Multidisciplinary consensus comprised of Gynecologic Oncology, Pathology, Neonatology, Radiology, Anesthesiology, Maternal Fetal Medicine, and Social Work should be convened. Pregnancy provides an opportunity for cervical cancer screening, with deliberate delays in treatment permissible for early stage carcinoma. Vaginal delivery is contraindicated in the presence of gross lesion(s) and radical hysterectomy with lymphadenectomy at cesarean delivery is recommended. Women with locally advanced and metastatic/recurrent disease should commence treatment at diagnosis with chemoradiation and systemic therapy, respectively; neoadjuvant chemotherapy to permit gestational advancement may be considered in select cases. Most adnexal masses are benign and resolve by the second trimester. Persistent, asymptomatic, benign-appearing masses can be managed conservatively; surgery, if indicated, is best deferred to 15–20 weeks, with laparoscopy preferable over laparotomy whenever possible. Benign and malignant germ cell tumors and borderline tumors are occasionally encountered, with unilateral adnexectomy and preservation of the uterus and contralateral ovary being the rule. Epithelial ovarian cancer is exceedingly rare. Ultrasonography and magnetic resonance imaging lack ionizing radiation and can be employed to evaluate disease extent. Tumor markers, including CA-125, AFP, LDH, inhibin-B, and even CEA and ßhCG may be informative. If required, chemotherapy can be administered following organogenesis during the second and third trimesters. Because platinum and other anti-neoplastic agents cross the placenta, chemotherapy should be withheld after 34 weeks to avoid neonatal myelosuppression. Bevacizumab, immune checkpoint inhibitors, and PARP inhibitors should be avoided throughout pregnancy. Although antenatal glucocorticoids to facilitate fetal pulmonary maturation and amniotic fluid index assessment can be considered, there is no demonstrable benefit of tocolytics, antepartum fetal heart rate monitoring, and/or amniocentesis. Endometrial, vulvar, and vaginal cancer in pregnancy are curiosities, although leiomyosarcoma and the dreaded twin fetus/hydatidiform mole have been reported. For gynecologic malignancies, pregnancy does not impart aggressive clinical behavior and/or worse prognosis.


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