Most operations can be done safely during pregnancy. Some can be done under local anaesthetic, but others involve having a general anaesthetic.
Your cancer doctor and pregnancy doctor (obstetrician) will work together to decide the best timing for surgery. They may delay it until you are in your second trimester. This is because surgery (under general anaesthetic) during the first trimester may slightly increase the risk of miscarriage.
You will see your obstetrician and an anaesthetist to discuss the operation. They will explain how they keep a close check on you and the baby during surgery. Your obstetrician may want to monitor the baby’s heart rate before and after surgery.
The risks and complications depend on the type of operation you are having. Your surgeon will talk to you about these. Surgery to your tummy area (abdomen) or to your pelvis may have more risk of complications. This is because the area is so close to the womb and baby. There is more risk if you are more than 25 weeks pregnant.
If you need this type of surgery, you and the baby will be very closely monitored during the operation. If you are later in your pregnancy, the obstetrician may be there. This is to make sure there is expert help available if there are any problems with the baby during surgery.
Pregnancy and surgery both increase the risk of a blood clot. Cancer itself can also increase the risk of a blood clot. Your surgeon and nurse will give you advice about ways to reduce this risk.
They may ask you to wear compression stockings before your operation and for a few weeks after it. You will also be encouraged to get up and walk around soon after your operation. Some women may be given injections under the skin to help reduce the risk of getting a clot.
A clot can cause:
- pain, redness and swelling in your leg or arm
- pain in your chest.
Contact your doctor straightaway if you have any of these symptoms. A blood clot is serious, but doctors can treat it with drugs that thin the blood.