For some women, the happiest time in their lives is complicated by the scariest times in their lives as some pregnant women are diagnosed with cancer. As women delay starting or completing their families until older maternal ages, the occurrence of cancer during pregnancy is not uncommon. For example, seven to fifteen percent of breast cancer cases occur in pregnant women making it the most common cancer diagnosed during pregnancy.
At the time Dr Cardonick met her first pregnant patient with cancer, the medical literature could not answer all the relevant questions for the woman facing cancer-especially with regards to how chemotherapy might affect her unborn child. Few oncologists or obstetricians treat more than 2 or 3 patients in this situation in an entire career. The only way to gain the necessary knowledge about cancer found and treated during pregnancy is to gather together experience from various hospitals into one single database. This is the purpose of the Cancer and Pregnancy Registry, designed to follow women and their children through diagnosis, treatment, delivery, childhood, adolescence and beyond.
Dr. Elyce Cardonick, a Maternal Fetal Medicine physician at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University collects information about the diagnosis, and treatment of all cancer types in pregnant women. Such information (kept strictly confidential) will help study the effects of a newly diagnosed cancer and its treatment on a concurrent pregnancy. Additionally, the interaction of a pregnancy on the natural history of certain types of cancer will also be studied. Women have even received chemotherapy during pregnancy and delivered healthy infants. Follow up of the women and their children is ongoing.