Information for Patients
Tumors and Pregnancy
Tumors during pregnancy are rare, but they can happen. Tumors can be either benign or malignant. Benign tumors aren't cancer. Malignant ones are. The most common cancers in pregnancy are breast cancer, cervical cancer, lymphoma, and melanoma. Cancer itself rarely harms the baby, and some cancer treatments are safe during pregnancy. You and your health care provider will work together to find the best treatment. Your options will depend on how far along the pregnancy is, as well as the type, size, and stage of your cancer.
Another type of tumor that women can get is called a gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD). It happens when a fertilized egg doesn't become a fetus. GTD is not always easy to find. It is usually benign, but some types can be malignant. The most common type of GTD is a molar pregnancy. In its early stages, it may look like a normal pregnancy. You should see your health care provider if you have vaginal bleeding (not menstrual bleeding).
Treatment depends on the type of tumor, whether it has spread to other places, and your overall health.
Recurrent hydatidiform mole Recurrent hydatidiform mole is a condition that affects women and is characterized by the occurrence of at least two abnormal pregnancies that result in the formation of hydatidiform moles. A hydatidiform mole is a mass that forms early in pregnancy and is made up of cells from an abnormally developed embryo and placenta. Normally, the embryo would develop into a fetus and the placenta would grow to provide nutrients to the growing fetus. When a hydatidiform mole occurs once, it is known as sporadic hydatidiform mole; if it happens again, the condition is known as recurrent hydatidiform mole.The first symptom of a hydatidiform mole is often vaginal bleeding in the first trimester of pregnancy. During an ultrasound examination, the abnormal placenta appears as numerous small sacs, often described as resembling a bunch of grapes.Hydatidiform moles are not naturally discharged from the body and must be surgically removed, typically by the end of the first trimester. After removal, there is up to a 20 percent risk that any tissue left behind will continue to grow and become a cancerous (malignant) tumor called a persistent mole. If the tumor invades the surrounding tissue of the uterus, it is called an invasive mole. In rare cases, this malignant tumor can transform into a different form of cancer called gestational choriocarcinoma that can spread (metastasize) to other tissues such as the liver, lungs, or brain.