Patient Guide

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Pregnancy and Cancer Treatment

Chemotherapy and radiation treatments can be very harmful to a fetus. It is very important not to get pregnant during treatment.

Even if you are not having your period, it’s possible that you could still become pregnant. If you are having sex, it is very important that you use birth control during treatment. If you think you might be pregnant or if you are having unprotected sex, it is really important for you to talk to someone on your healthcare team. Please also read about sexuality and cancer treatment.

Q. Is it possible to get pregnant during treatment?

A. Yes. It is important that you and your partner continue to use birth control to make sure you do not get pregnant. Using condoms is extremely important, too, even if you are already on birth control. This is a dangerous time to get a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Q. If I am having sex, what kind of birth control should I use?

A. The kinds of birth control that prevent pregnancy the best are condoms and Depo-Provera. Your nurse practitioner can prescribe Depo-Provera for you. It is possible that you may stop having your periods during your chemotherapy. This does not mean that you can’t get pregnant.

Q. If I am pregnant, will my treatment hurt my fetus?

A. Cancer treatments can do a lot of harm to a fetus. They can cause birth defects and cause other serious problems. These treatments, medicines, and tests include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • X-rays, CT scans or nuclear-medicine scans
  • Any type of sedation or anesthesia (the drugs that help you sleep or relax during a test or procedure)

Q. Will I have routine pregnancy screening during treatment?

A. If you are a female who is 12 or older, you will be screened for pregnancy before certain kinds of tests or treatments, and when you are admitted to the hospital. If you are pregnant, then your healthcare provider will tell you. If you are 14 or older, your provider will need your permission to tell your parent or guardian.