Having cervical cancer alone may not affect your pregnancy or cause miscarriage. But some treatment options may cause complications, including an increased risk of pregnancy loss.

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Your cervix is the part of your uterus that connects to your vagina. If you have cervical cancer, certain treatments may increase your risk of miscarriage. But many people can have healthy pregnancies after receiving a cervical cancer diagnosis.

One challenge of dealing with cervical cancer while pregnant is that treatment options are limited in order to protect your baby. Similarly, undergoing treatment for cervical cancer before pregnancy may raise the risk of miscarriage later on.

By working with your healthcare team, you may be able to avoid some of the more common pregnancy-related challenges that can come from a cervical cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment.

Learn more about cervical cancer.

Treatment for cervical cancer that does not involve a hysterectomy (removal of your uterus) may include surgical removal of your cervix, as well as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or both to kill cancer cells in your cervix. Any of these treatments may raise your risk of miscarriage or affect your ability to get pregnant.

Surgery to remove your cervix, called trachelectomy, usually leaves your uterus intact, meaning that pregnancy is possible after the procedure.

However, receiving radiation to your uterus to treat cervical cancer may raise the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, and other complications, according to the American Cancer Society.

Depending on the extent and stage of cervical cancer, some people may need additional treatment, such as radiation therapy, a simple or radical hysterectomy, or both.

Receiving radiation to your uterus to treat cervical cancer may raise the risk of miscarriage, premature birth, and other complications, according to the American Cancer Society.

Because cervical cancer is usually a slow-growing cancer, it’s possible that a diagnosis during pregnancy may have little impact on the health of your baby or on your miscarriage risk. But various cancer treatments may affect your miscarriage risk.

A 2017 study involving people with cervical precancer lesions (not invasive cervical cancer) compared two procedures: excisional treatment (the use of a wire loop charged with electrical energy to remove cancerous cells from the cervix) and ablative treatment (the use of heat or cold energy to destroy suspicious cells).

The researchers found that excisional treatment did not raise the risk of miscarriage or significant health problems for the baby, but ablative treatment was associated with a higher risk of miscarriage.

According to the National Cancer Institute, if you receive a diagnosis of stage 1 cervical cancer during your first trimester, you may be able to wait until after delivery to begin treatment.

Your doctor may advise you to have a cesarean delivery at around 37 weeks of pregnancy to help speed up treatment. Your treatment might include a hysterectomy, which surgeons can perform at the same time as a cesarean delivery.

Receiving chemotherapy during the first trimester raises the risk of miscarriage or low birth weight. Treatment options for a cervical cancer diagnosis during the second or third trimester may include waiting until after delivery for a hysterectomy or other therapy.

Chemotherapy may be an option, too, particularly if the cancer is stage 2, 3, or 4 at diagnosis. A 2022 study of people who received a cervical cancer diagnosis while pregnant found that the use of chemotherapy during pregnancy did not threaten the health of the fetus.

Your doctor may also recommend a treatment called a cold knife conization, which is a surgical procedure to remove a small amount of tissue containing suspicious cells from your cervix. A 2017 study suggests that cold knife conization does not increase the risk of preterm birth if there are no other risk factors affecting the pregnancy.

Early on, cervical cancer may have no obvious symptoms. When symptoms are present in early stage cancer, they may include vaginal discharge with an odor and irregular vaginal bleeding. Later stage cancer may also cause severe abdominal pain.

Various cancer treatments pose a greater risk to the health of your baby than the cancer itself does.

A 2022 study suggests that cervical cancer during pregnancy is rare, and when it does occur, it’s often associated with few medical risks to the child. However, preterm birth appears to be more common in pregnancies of people with cervical cancer than in pregnancies when no cancer is present.

The outlook for a pregnant person with cervical cancer is about the same as it is for someone who has the disease but is not pregnant, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.

The National Cancer Institute suggests that if cervical cancer is diagnosed and treated at an early stage, the average 5-year survival rate is 91%. If treatment begins at a later stage, the average survival rate starts to decline.

Do they check for cervical cancer during pregnancy?

You can have a cervical cancer screening at any time before becoming pregnant or during pregnancy. In many cases, your first prenatal visit with a doctor will include a Pap smear to check for any suspicious cells in your cervix.

Can a woman with cervical cancer get pregnant?

If you’ve received a diagnosis of cervical cancer, you should wait until after treatment to try to become pregnant. If your treatment involves a procedure that spares your uterus, then a healthy pregnancy is quite possible. But if your treatment involves a hysterectomy or radiation therapy, pregnancy will not be possible.

Where is there pain with cervical cancer?

If you experience pain due to cervical cancer, you’ll usually feel it in your lower abdomen, your lower back, and in your pelvic area between your hips.

If you’ve had treatment for cervical cancer or recently received a cervical cancer diagnosis and you’re hoping to become pregnant, talk with your doctor about the risks associated with your cancer diagnosis and treatment.

If you receive a cervical cancer diagnosis while pregnant, understand that many factors will determine your course of action, including how far along you are, the stage of the cancer, your medical history, and any current medical concerns.

Be prepared to work with a multidisciplinary team of health professionals to get the best outcome for you and your baby.