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Management of pregnancy in women with cancer
  1. Vera Wolters1,
  2. Joosje Heimovaara2,
  3. Charlotte Maggen3,
  4. Elyce Cardonick4,
  5. Ingrid Boere5,
  6. Liesbeth Lenaerts2 and
  7. Frédéric Amant1,2
  1. 1 Department of Gynecology, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Nederlands Kanker Instituut, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  2. 2 Department of Oncology, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  3. 3 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospitals Leuven and Department of Oncology, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  4. 4 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cooper University Health Care, Camden, New Jersey, USA
  5. 5 Department of Medical Oncology, Erasmus MC Cancer Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Professor Frédéric Amant, Department of Oncology, KU Leuven, Leuven 3000, Belgium; frederic.amant{at}


As the incidence of cancer in pregnancy has been increasing in recent decades, more specialists are confronted with a complex oncologic–obstetric decision-making process. With the establishment of (inter)national registries, including the International Network on Cancer, Infertility and Pregnancy, and an increasing number of smaller cohort studies, more evidence on the management of cancer during pregnancy is available. As fetal, neonatal, and short-term pediatric outcomes after cancer treatment are reassuring, more women receive treatment during pregnancy. Prenatal treatment should adhere to standard treatment as much as possible to optimize maternal prognosis, always taking into account fetal well-being. In order to guarantee the optimal treatment for both mother and child, a multidisciplinary team of specialists with expertise should be involved. Apart from oncologic treatment, a well-considered obstetric and perinatal management plan discussed with the future parents is crucial. Results of non-invasive prenatal testing are inconclusive in women with cancer and alternatives for prenatal anomaly screening should be used. Especially in women treated with chemotherapy, serial ultrasounds are strongly recommended to follow-up fetal growth and cervical length. After birth, a neonatal assessment allows the identification of any cancer or treatment-related adverse events. In addition, placental histologic examination aims to assess the fetal risk of metastasis, especially in women with malignant melanoma or metastatic disease. Breastfeeding is discouraged when systemic treatment needs to be continued after birth. At least a 3-week interval between the last treatment and nursing is recommended to prevent any treatment-induced neonatal effects from most non-platinum chemotherapeutic agents.

  • carcinoma
  • radiotherapy
  • surgery

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  • Contributors All authors contributed to the concept, design and writing of the manuscript.

  • Funding This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement No. 647047, “Kom op tegen Kanker, the Flemish Cancer Society” and the Dutch Cancer Society under grant agreement No. 10 094. Frédéric Amant is also a senior clinical researcher for the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.