Researchers reveal most common complications associated with cancer in pregnant women

A study led by Keele University aims to improve outcomes for pregnant women who are at a higher risk of complications due to a current or historical cancer diagnosis.

New research, led by Dr Pensee Wu from Keele University’s School of Medicine, has revealed that pregnant women who have previously had cancer or currently have cancer are more likely to experience two or more simultaneous medical conditions at the time of delivery, and aims to improve outcomes for these patients by increasing awareness amongst healthcare professionals of the possible complications posed to these women.

The study, published by Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found that the three most common cancer diagnoses associated with pregnancy are blood (haematological), thyroid and cervical cancers and the most common risks were associated with premature births.

Meanwhile, cervical cancer was also associated with the highest odds for acute kidney injury, skin cancer was most associated with an increased risk of stroke, and haematological cancers were associated with higher risks of in-hospital complications and mortality in some cases.

Furthermore, the spread of cancer – mestases – around the body also increased the risk of preterm birth and maternal mortality.

To carry out the research, the team analysed data of over 43 million women who delivered babies over a ten-year period between 2004 and 2014 and looked specifically at the outcomes for those who had current and historic cancer.

Dr Wu, Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, said: “Cancer is the second commonest cause of death in women. Women who have been diagnosed with cancer either during pregnancy, or before they have completed childbearing, need appropriate counselling so they can make informed choices. Healthcare professionals should communicate the delivery risks associated with current and historical cancer diagnosis with this group of women.”