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What you should know about pregnancy and cancer

Health By Esther Muchene
The side effects caused by a cancer diagnosis can make it harder for a pregnant mother (Photo: Shutterstock)

There are different aspects of cancer that people are still trying to understand today. Since cancer is a life-changing illness, there are questions surrounding how it truly affects someone’s life.

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After diagnosis, many emotions run through one’s mind like, how the family will react, how it will affect other aspects of your life and also whether you’ll be able to fully recover. All these questions can be scary to confront.

One major aspect of dealing with cancer is its relationship with having kids. When plans were already underway to have children and the diagnosis comes in, adjustments have to be made.

Although cancer affects pregnancy, some myths are surrounding the two that have to be cleared.

Below are some of the aspects that you should know about cancer and pregnancies.

• Which types of cancer are common in pregnant women?

Many types of cancers affect people today. Some of the common ones that have been diagnosed among pregnant women include breast, skin, colon and rectum, thyroid, cervical and also breast cancer. Cervical and breast cancer have been reported as the most common ones affecting pregnant women.

• What are the effects on the mother?

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As we all know, cancer is a difficult illness to deal with. It causes side effects such as fatigue, pain and other effects that can make the pregnancy even harder. For the mother, a lot of strength and support is required to deal with the effects of the pregnancy alongside the effects of cancer. Also, some of the symptoms of cancer coincide with those of the pregnancy so it can be a lot harder to detect cancer early.

After the child is born, breastfeeding is also affected. The taste of the milk can change in women dealing with different forms of cancer. Doctors can also advise the mother to avoid breastfeeding when treatments are ongoing. This is a safety measure to avoid the radiation and other side effects from reaching the baby.

In many cases, children of mothers who have cancer are born healthy (Photo: Shutterstock)

• What are the effects on the child?

In many cases, children are normally born healthy. In other cases, however, things don’t always run as smoothly as expected. The cancerous cells can spread to the baby as they multiply especially in cervical cancer. Because of this, some pregnancies have to be terminated. In some unfortunate occurrences, cancer can cause stillbirths in some pregnant women. These are some of the risks cancer can pose for an unborn child with a mother suffering from cancer.

• What are the myths?

Most people are still unaware of the issues surrounding pregnancy and cancer. Because of this, people are bound to assume many things. Some of the assumptions are that the child must come out with a disability if the mother has cancer. The truth is that there are many successful births even when the mothers have cancer. Pregnancy can be more difficult, but children can still be born healthy.

• What are the facts?

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According to studies, it is rare for a pregnant woman to get cancer. Statistics indicate that only about 1 in 1, 000 women can have a pregnancy with cancer. Women who have cancer are also still encouraged to try for a baby nonetheless. Other facts about cancer and pregnancy are risk factors. Older women are at a higher risk of dealing with cancer and carrying a baby to full term especially since more women are opting to have children at an older age.

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