Cancer before, during and after pregnancy.London: Public Health England; 2018

Cancer in pregnancy

02 June 2019
Volume 27 · Issue 6


Receiving a diagnosis of cancer during pregnancy can be frightening, and a woman may worry for her future and the outcome of the pregnancy. It makes coping extremely difficult

There has been a long-standing lack of national data regarding cancer during pregnancy and post birth in the UK. This has led to the figures about ante- and postnatal cancer diagnosis being obscured for some time, especially given the different systems that are used to record clinical information about patients. The cancer and maternity classifications in hospital admission codes have also not been matched up for the purposes of presenting regular data; however, steps have been taken to address some of that. Following the publication of research by National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (2018), it is estimated that approximately 1 in every 1000 pregnancies is affected.

At first glance, some may think this invites words such as ‘rare’ and ‘uncommon’ to be associated with cancer and pregnancy. However, when we investigate this further and balance this against the UK birth rates over the past 4–5 years, this equates to two women per day receiving a diagnosis of cancer during or within 12 months of pregnancy, so perhaps it is not so ‘rare.’

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