September 1988

Management of Cancer During Pregnancy

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Hematology/Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, Harry S Truman Memorial Veterans Hospital (Dr Doll) and the University of Missouri—Columbia (Drs Doll, Ringenberg, and Yarbro).

Arch Intern Med. 1988;148(9):2058-2064. doi:10.1001/archinte.1988.00380090118027

• Although cancer during pregnancy is Infrequent, its management is difficult for patients, their families, and their physicians. When termination of the pregnancy is unacceptable, decisions regarding the use of Irradiation and chemotherapy are complicated by the well-known high risks of abortion and fetal malformation. This risk is concentrated in the first trimester and varies with the choice of chemotherapeutic agents or combinations of agents. There is only minimal evidence of increased risk of malformation or abortion in the second or third trimester. Recent progress in cancer therapy has made cure a reasonable goal, and for some malignant neoplasms, cure is still possible even when initial therapy is modified or delayed. When cure is a reasonable goal, curative therapy should not be compromised by modification or delay. When treatment for cure or significant palliation is not possible, however, the goal should shift to protection of the fetus from damage by the injudicious use of teratogenic cancer therapy. This report will review the available data that may assist in these difficult decisions.

(Arch Intern Med 1988;148:2058-2064)