Ovarian cancer during pregnancy

Ovarian cancer during pregnancy

2019-01-29 0 By Karen Smith

Being the tenth most common cancer among women in the US, Ovarian cancer is rare among women in their productive ages. It mostly affects women in their menopause stage. Ovarian cancer may also appear during pregnancy posing a significant risk to the life of the fetus and the mother. It mostly goes unnoticed until its late stages.  The ovarian cancer shares some of its symptoms with pregnancy. If the symptoms persist, or if you have a family history of ovarian cancer, you would need to inform your doctor.

Pregnancy is a happy stage in a woman’s life. Pregnant women should take good care of their health. Ask the Melbourne-IVF Team for tips on how to have a safe pregnancy.

Though rare, ovarian cancer can also transmit to the fetus and may even lead to birth defects. Depending on its urgency, the diagnosis and treatment can wait until after pregnancy. Breastfeeding is purely harmless, as it is not communicable. Your body may, however, excrete the chemotherapy drugs through breast milk exposing your child to the risk of side effects from the drugs.  

Symptoms may include; 

Ovarian cancer during pregnancy
  • Back pain
  • Abdominal pains and bloating
  • Constipation and feeling of fullness with little food
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Heartburn  
  • Difficulty in eating     


Blood tests can be taken to check the presence of CA-125 levels. The CA-125 is an indicator of ovarian cancer presence, but other factors can affect its levels decreasing its reliability for diagnosis. The physician may also conduct scanning and physical examinations to detect and confirm the presence of the tumor. For actual diagnosis, you should also consider a biopsy of the ovary to confirm ovarian cancer.  


The most preferred treatment for this case is chemotherapy. You should also note that chemotherapy is not advisable for patients in the first trimester of their pregnancy as it can lead to fetus deformation and thereafter birth defects. Radiotherapy may also have the same undesirable effects to the fetus. One can also opt to remove the tumor through surgery. These procedures should wait until the mother delivers. In case the tumor poses a threat to the life of the baby and the mother, one should consider the surgery to eliminate the tumor.