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Cancer During Pregnancy


Sometimes cancer and pregnancy can happen at the same time. The type of cancer treatment used during pregnancy depends on a number of things, including:

  • How far along the pregnancy is (gestational age).
  • The type and location of the cancer.
  • How advanced the cancer is.
  • How rapidly the cancer is developing.
  • Whether there are other health problems.

The medicines and radiation used for treating cancer can be dangerous to the baby. Your doctor may talk to you about the risks and benefits of continuing your pregnancy. When treating cancer during pregnancy, doctors adjust the usual treatments with the following in mind.

  • Radiation therapy for cancer treatment is not usually used during pregnancy because it can be harmful to the baby.
  • Diagnostic tests that use radiation may be used during pregnancy if needed. But ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are considered safer and are used whenever possible.
  • Chemotherapy medicines are sometimes used during pregnancy. They are usually safer when used in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer during your pregnancy, you will be working with a number of health professionals. Ask your cancer specialist (oncologist) for the name of a social worker who can help support you through your treatment. A social worker can also help coordinate the various professionals involved with your care.


Current as of: March 1, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine