Hodgkin disease in pregnancy
If a pregnant woman has Hodgkin disease, the woman and her doctors need to take into account the extent of the cancer, how quickly it is growing, how far along the pregnancy is, and what the woman wants to do.
If the cancer is found during the second half of the pregnancy and is not causing problems, a woman can often wait until the baby is born (sometimes by inducing labor a few weeks early) before starting treatment. This approach is safest for the baby.
If treatment needs to be given during pregnancy, one (or more) chemo drugs may be used, based on the situation. Treatment may be put off until later in the pregnancy (typically after the first trimester, when the baby’s organs are fully formed), if possible.
Radiation is not often given because of concerns about the long-term effects on the unborn baby. But studies suggest that as long as very careful measures are taken to aim the radiation precisely and limit the doses used, pregnant women with Hodgkin disease in the lymph nodes in the neck, arm pit, or inside the chest may be able to have this treatment with little or no risk to the baby.
The need to avoid radiation also limits which imaging tests can be used. CT scans, PET scans, and x-rays all use radiation, so they are avoided if at all possible. MRI scans and ultrasound can often be used instead.
Last Medical Review: 08/19/2014
Last Revised: 02/09/2016