COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Tumors during pregnancy are rare, but when they happen, they add another level of urgency for both the expectant mother and her unborn baby. Now imagine being diagnosed with a brain tumor while pregnant with twins! In this complex scenario, Ivanhoe details how doctors took on this challenge.
Jeanette Davila says, “Right when I went into my second trimester, I started experiencing the headaches. And then as I got into my third trimester, it was so severe that it would make me cry.”
Jeanette headaches were not caused by her pregnancy, but the later surgery was definitely a risk to her unborn twins.
“I started noticing that I couldn’t see. When I woke up the next morning after realizing that I had lost vision in my left eye, I had no vision in my right eye.”
An MRI revealed a benign brain tumor.
Pablo Recinos, MD, says “A tumor that originated from the pituitary gland.”
Cleveland Clinic Neurosurgeon Pablo Recinos says the tumor was in the center of her brain, had bled, and was growing.
“Her tumor had expanded to the size of, perhaps, like, a small tangerine. And more importantly, it was pushing on the nerves that controlled her vision.” Explains Doctor Recinos.
Worried Jeanette’s vision loss could become permanent, Doctor Recinos’ team could not delay surgery.
Doctor Recinos says, “There was a major risk to her vision.”
At 36 weeks into her pregnancy, they operated. Using a small camera, Doctor Recinos used an endoscope, inserted through the nostrils, to remove the tumor.
“The high-risk obstetrics team, which was composed of a doctor, nurses, and techs that were monitoring the babies continuously through the procedure.” Says Doctor Recinos.
Jeanette’s vision immediately improved and one week after surgery, Jeanette gave birth, via c-section, to Juliette and Noah. And today, all three are home and healthy.
Jeanette Davila says, “Just never lose hope. Never lose your faith. Just stay strong.”
Good advice for all of us!
Jeanette, like other patients with pituitary tumors, will need to have yearly MRI’s throughout her life to make sure it does not return.
Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Kirk Manson, Videographer.
PREGNANT AND BATTLING A BRAIN TUMOR
BACKGROUND: Cancer during pregnancy is not very common and rarely affects the growing fetus. However, it can be more complex to diagnose and treat because tests can affect the fetus. Pregnancy symptoms can look like cancer symptoms, such as bloating, headaches, or rectal bleeding. Breasts typically get larger and change texture during pregnancy and these breast changes may appear normal. This means that cancer-related changes in pregnant women may be noticed later and therefore diagnosed later than women who are not pregnant. Pregnancy can also reveal cancer like when a pap test is done as a part of standard pregnancy care and reveals cervical cancer, or an ultrasound done during pregnancy can find ovarian cancer.
CANCER TREATMENT DURING PREGNANCY: Cancer treatment during pregnancy requires a team of oncologists and high-risk obstetricians. The stage of the pregnancy and the type, size, and stage of the cancer are important. During the first three months of pregnancy, chemotherapy carries the risk of birth defects or pregnancy loss because this is when the fetus’s organs are still growing. During the second and third trimesters, doctors can give several types of chemotherapy with low risk to the fetus. The placenta acts as a wall protecting the baby, so some drugs cannot pass through. Other drugs only pass through in small amounts. Studies suggest that children exposed to chemotherapy during pregnancy do not show more health issues than children who are not. This includes right after birth and during the child’s growth and development.
Chemotherapy in the later stages of pregnancy may cause side effects like low blood counts. This can increase the risk of infection and indirectly harm the baby during birth or right after birth.
NEW RESEARCH ON INTERRUPTING ENDOCRINE THERAPY: A New England Journal of Medicine study reveals women with early-stage, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer who interrupted their endocrine therapy to become pregnant have about the same risk of cancer recurrence as similar breast cancer patients who didn’t pause their treatment. All 516 patients enrolled in the study had been treated for early-stage breast cancer and had been taking endocrine therapy for 18 to 31 months. After about three and half years, almost three-quarters of participants became pregnant at least once and nearly two-thirds had healthy babies while pausing hormone therapy. “This is an extremely important question for young cancer survivors, as family planning is a critical life event,” said Heather Neuman, a breast surgical oncologist and health services researcher at the University of Wisconsin. Among the 497 participants who reported pregnancies, 368 had at least one pregnancy and 317 had at least one live birth. The pregnancies did not appear to have a higher rate of complications or birth defects than in women of a similar age without breast cancer.
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