Cervical cancer and pregnancy
This page is about pregnancy and cervical cancer. We have information about pregnancy and abnormal cervical smears on a different page of this section. This page has information on
Cervical cancer and pregnancy
This page is about pregnancy and cervical cancer. It is not about pregnancy and abnormal cervical smears.
Pregnancy after treatment
Unfortunately, after most treatment for cervical cancer, you cannot get pregnant. This occurs if you have your womb removed (hysterectomy), or if you have radiotherapy that stops your ovaries working. If you have very early cancer, you may be able to have a cone biopsy or LLETZ. This would mean you can still have a baby. An operation called radical trachelectomy is another option. Women have had babies safely after this operation, but there is a risk of miscarriage or premature birth.
Being pregnant when you are diagnosed
If you are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer when more than 3 months pregnant, your doctor will probably advise you to continue the pregnancy and have treatment as soon as the baby is born. They are likely to recommend an early caesarean section and removal of the womb as a combined operation.
If you are less than 3 months pregnant, your doctor may want to treat you straight away. They may think more than 6 months is too long to leave an invasive cancer untreated. If you do decide to have treatment then your pregnancy will be ended. This is an immensely difficult decision to make. You will need time to think and to find out what all your options are. You can ask if there is anyone you (and your partner) can talk to such as a specialist nurse or counsellor.
You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating cervical cancer section.
Unfortunately, after most treatment for cervical cancer, you cannot get pregnant. This can be very distressing and occurs if you
If you have very early cervical cancer and want to be able to become pregnant after your treatment, you may be able to have a cone biopsy or LLETZ. This would mean you could still get pregnant and have a baby because your womb has not been removed. Your doctor will take into account your wishes to become pregnant in the future. But it will only be safe to have a cone biopsy if the cancer is so early that it can be completely removed.
Another option is called radical trachelectomy. Not everyone can have this type of treatment. It can only be done if you have a very early cervical cancer - no more than a small stage 1 cancer. Most of the cervix is removed, together with the upper part of the vagina. The womb and the upper opening of the cervix (where it joins onto the womb) are left behind and rejoined to the vagina. Your vagina will be shortened by this type of surgery.
The surgeon puts a stitch around the upper opening of the cervix to hold it closed. This operation has been available in some hospitals for about 12 years and babies have been born safely to women who have had it done. But there is a risk of miscarriage or premature birth after this operation. The babies have to be born by caesarean section because the cervix is permanently stitched closed after the trachelectomy. With trachelectomy, fertility is not as good as after cone biopsy. But radical trachelectomy is more likely than cone biopsy to cure slightly larger cancers.
Before the operation, your surgeon will not be able to guarantee that you can definitely have a trachelectomy. It isn't possible to tell how far the cancer cells have spread into the cervix. The tissue removed by the surgeon has to be checked for cancer cells. This may be done while you are still under anaesthetic. If cancer cells are found in the deeper levels of the cervix, more tissue will have to be removed to cure the cancer and so you may then need to have a hysterectomy or combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy (chemoradiation).
If your surgeon finds you have a stage 1A2 or 1B cervical cancer, they will want to remove some of your lymph nodes as well as the cancer. This is to check that no cancer cells have broken away from the cancer and lodged in the lymph nodes around the womb. If there are, and these are not treated, the cancer is likely to come back.
With a stage 1 cancer, there is only a small risk of the cancer spreading to the lymph nodes. But if any of your lymph nodes are found to contain cancer cells, your specialist is likely to recommend radiotherapy. Unfortunately, radiotherapy will also make you infertile and so you will not be able to have children even after the trachelectomy.
If you are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer when you are pregnant, what will happen depends on what stage the pregnancy is. Of course, what is done will always be your decision in the end but you will need full information from your medical and nursing team about your options. They should also tell you about the benefits and possible risks of each option.
If you are less than 3 months pregnant, your doctor may want to treat you straight away. Your doctor may feel more than 6 months is too long to leave a cervical cancer without treatment. If you do decide to have treatment then you will need to end the pregnancy. This can be very distressing but remember that you will have support from your nurses and doctors.
If you are in the second or third trimester of pregnancy (more than 3 months pregnant), your doctor will probably say that you can continue the pregnancy but have the baby early by caesarean section. Your womb may be removed at the same time and you may then need further treatment with radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
This is an immensely difficult decision to make and one that there can be no hard and fast rules about. You will need to have time to think and to find out what all your options are. It will not matter if your treatment is delayed by a week or so. Make sure you have had the opportunity to ask all the questions you need to ask. You can also ask if there is anyone else you (and your partner) can talk to such as a specialist nurse or counsellor.
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