Just so you are aware – the information on this page will talk a little bit about terminating a pregnancy (abortion).
If you do find that you are pregnant and have cancer at the same time, you might be worried that the cancer could spread to the baby or harm it in other ways.
It is very rare that a cancer spreads to a baby – there are only about 25 cases where this is thought to have happened since the 1800s. When it has, the person who was pregnant usually had melanoma (a type of skin cancer) or leukaemia (a type of blood cancer).2
Likewise, there’s no risk that the cancer could spread to a baby through breast milk.3
The biggest risk to a baby being carried by somebody with cancer is cancer treatment, as this can harm the baby and can pass to the baby through breast milk.1 For that reason, people with cancer are advised not to get pregnant.
Research has shown that people who have had cancer treatment are less likely to get pregnant than somebody who hasn’t had cancer treatment.4 But your own situation will depend very much on the types of treatment that you have had. Because of this, your doctor is the best source of advice for information specific to you.
While discussing it, they might suggest you look into something called ‘fertility preservation’ – this is where you can collect eggs and/or sperm to be frozen and used to make a baby later on using IVF, and potentially a surrogate if you need one.
Your doctor may also discuss the timing of when you start trying for a baby – this is because you may need to have regular check-ups and scans to make sure that your cancer isn’t coming back, and these scans could be harmful to an unborn baby.1
The information past here talks a little bit about terminating a pregnancy (abortion). If you think this information might be upsetting or triggering, you might want to stop reading here for now.
Learning that you are pregnant and have cancer at the same time will probably cause a lot of different emotions – anything from happiness to worry and even fear.
As somebody who is pregnant, there are limited options for your cancer treatment. This is because the treatment could harm the baby and lead to miscarriage, or cause problems after the baby is born.1
This means you will have to make some potentially difficult decisions:
Ultimately the choice is yours, and you might want to make your decision with advice and support from your partner, doctors, and other friends and loved ones.
It’s important to recognise that making these decisions can sometimes be quite distressing. If you think you need some extra emotional or mental health support, speak to your doctor, and they can help you find the help you need.
Here, we introduce you to the care team that will support you through your cancer journey, and guide you through getting the most out of your appointments and discussions.