Outcomes for Both Mom and Baby not Affected by Colorectal Cancer during Pregnancy

Women who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth have no difference in survival than women who weren’t pregnant.  Their babies, while at risk for preterm birth, have equally healthy outcomes and survival as other infants.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis matched California women with colorectal cancer and their infants to two other groups:  pregnant women without colorectal cancer and age-matched women with colorectal cancer who weren’t pregnant.

Women with colorectal cancer were about twice as likely to have cesarean sections and had three times the risk for infections.  They went also into labor early labor three times as often as pregnant women without cancer.  However, neonatal outcomes were similar.

Dr. Lloyd Smith, a gynecological oncologist at UC Davis said that cancer diagnosis is often delayed until after delivery.

There really were no obvious findings indicating where we could improve care, with the exception that physicians should be on the lookout with their pregnant patients for colon and rectal cancer symptoms. Rectal bleeding during pregnancy is often blamed on hemorrhoids. We should always be aware of the possibility of a tumor, even in young women.

Study author Dr. Mary Dahling points out risk for inherited colorectal cancer in women of childbearing age,

Even though the obstetrical and neonatal outcomes for women with colorectal cancer were good, we should be sure to include genetic counseling in the range of services offered to women who are considering getting pregnant, especially if there is a genetic susceptibility for the disease.

SOURCE: Dahling et al., Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, published online December 16, 2008.

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