Cervical Cancer and Pregnancy: Can You Get Pregnant?
Postmenopausal women tend to have the most diagnosed cervical cancer. Nonetheless, premenopausal women who want to conceive can also be diagnosed. Many women these days delay conception. Unfortunately, this can lead to cervical cancer before getting pregnant. Many treatments result in permanent infertility. However, options exist for cervical cancer and pregnancy. Some women who wish to preserve their fertility can still get pregnant.
Cervical cancer and pregnancy
The standard treatments for cervical cancer, a hysterectomy (simple or radical) and pelvic radiation, result in permanent sterility. Select patients with early-stage cancer could qualify for fertility-sparing options. These include radical fertility-sparing trachelectomy. Furthermore, the cervix is removed but the uterus is spared.
Approximately one-third of patients with cervical cancer may meet the criteria for this procedure. Due to the rarity of this procedure, many referring physicians do not know this procedure can be an option.
Radical trachelectomy candidates
Those who desire future fertility possibilities qualify. Otherwise, doctors prefer more conventional methods. Surgery can be more complicated when compared to a standard hysterectomy. Furthermore, a patient might have to meet with another gynecological oncologist. Not all of these specialists can perform fertility-sparing trachelectomies.
At a patient’s initial consultation, providers would obtain important information. This is to assess if it is an appropriate option. Some of these criteria include:
- Tumor size
- Any spread of disease on imaging
- The type of cancer
- Others depending on the patient
How is the procedure performed?
Several surgical options exist with a trachelectomy. These include vaginal or abdominal, and robotic or minimally invasive. In addition, most surgeons use either an incision on the belly or multiple smaller incisions. They also perform the surgery in a minimally invasive fashion. The surgery requires very careful dissection due to the steps involved. Furthermore, this keeps the uterus viable while eliminating cervical cancer. The general steps include:
- The surgeon dissects the uterus while the blood supply remains intact.
- They separate the cervix from the uterus.
- A stitch known as the cerclage is placed around the uterus base to secure it for fertility.
- The surgeon reconstructs the uterus to the top of the vagina.
Can you get pregnant after cervical cancer?
Yes. Pregnancy rates are very encouraging after a trachelectomy with close to 70 percent of women achieving pregnancy afterward. Some patients may require some reproductive assistance. For instance, they might need intrauterine insemination or in vitro. It is important to involve a reproductive specialty physician in these cases to offer guidance along the way. Also, patients will need to deliver via cesarean section because of the permanent cerclage placed at the base of the uterus to prevent premature delivery.