Management and outcome of cervical cancer diagnosed in pregnancy

Published:October 31, 2016DOI:


      Cervical cancer is the third most common gynecologic malignancy in the United States. Approximately 1-3% of cervical cancers will be diagnosed in pregnant and peripartum women; optimal management in the setting of pregnancy is not always clear.


      We sought to describe the management of patients with cervical cancer diagnosed in pregnancy and compare their outcomes to nonpregnant women with similar baseline characteristics.

      Study Design

      We conducted a retrospective chart review of all patients diagnosed with cervical cancer in pregnancy and matched them 1:2 with contemporaneous nonpregnant women of the same age diagnosed with cervical cancer of the same stage. Patients were identified using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision codes and the Dana-Farber/Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Registry. Data were analyzed using Stata, Version 10.1 (College Station, TX).


      In all, 28 women diagnosed with cervical cancer during pregnancy were identified from 1997 through 2013. The majority were Stage IB1. In all, 25% (7/28) of women terminated the pregnancy; these women were more likely to be diagnosed earlier in pregnancy (10.9 vs 19.7 weeks, P = .006). For those who did not terminate, mean gestational age at delivery was 36.1 weeks. Pregnancy complications were uncommon. Complication rates in pregnant women undergoing radical hysterectomy were similar to those outside of pregnancy. Time to treatment was significantly longer for pregnant women compared to nonpregnant patients (20.8 vs 7.9 weeks, P = .0014) but there was no survival difference between groups (89.3% vs 95.2%, P = .08). Women who underwent gravid radical hysterectomy had significantly higher estimated blood loss than those who had a radical hysterectomy in the postpartum period (2033 vs 425 mL, P = .0064), but operative characteristics were otherwise similar. None of the pregnant women who died delayed treatment due to pregnancy.


      Gestational age at diagnosis is an important determinant of management of cervical cancer in pregnancy, underscoring the need for expeditious workup of abnormal cervical cytology. Of women who choose to continue the pregnancy, most delivered in the late preterm period without significant obstetric complications. For women undergoing radical hysterectomy in the peripartum period, complication rates are similar to nonpregnant women undergoing this procedure. Women who died were more likely to have advanced stage disease at the time of diagnosis. This information may be useful in counseling women facing the diagnosis of cervical cancer in pregnancy.

      Key words

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