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July 15, 2013

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Woman gives birth after risky surgery for cervical cancer

A 25-YEAR-OLD woman has delivered a healthy baby girl after having cervical cancer surgery during the 18th week of her pregnancy at a local hospital.

The Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital of Fudan University announced the case yesterday, saying it was the first time in the world a woman delivered a healthy baby after having such surgery during pregnancy.

Women with cervical cancer usually have to abort a fetus to have surgery or undergo open surgery to keep the baby.

"Stopping a pregnancy and removing a patient's entire cervix and womb means she will lose her only chance to be a mother," said Dr Hua Keqin, a chief surgeon.

Under the patient's strong request to keep her baby, doctors performed minimally invasive surgery with a laparoscope.

"Open surgery is easier for doctors but it is risky for the fetus as the large wound can cause problems as the fetus grows in the later stages of pregnancy," Hua said.

The woman, a Zhejiang Province native, had bleeding in March during the 16th week of pregnancy, and was diagnosed with cervical cancer in her hometown.

Doctors at various hospitals all recommended ending the pregnancy and having surgery to remove the cervix and womb.

Unwilling to do so, she turned to the Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital of Fudan University. She was told doctors could save both her and her baby.

"It is a very risky surgery," Hua said. "We only found 15 case reports from abroad about cervical cancer surgery while keeping the fetus. There was a 40 percent chance of miscarriage and very low chance of a live delivery. None was conducted with a minimally invasive approach."

Fetus passed checks

The woman had surgery to remove her cervix while keeping the fetus on March 21.

After the surgery, the medical team used chemotherapy, without harming the fetus, for three months to help control the spread of cancerous cells.

The fetus passed all prenatal checks.

Doctor Cheng Haidong, director of the hospital's obstetrics department, said it was important to keep the fetus in the mother's womb as long as possible because it develops better.

The patient showed labor signs on July 6. She delivered a girl weighing 1,750 grams through a Cesarean section. After giving birth her womb was removed. The baby was sent to a pediatric hospital and checks found she was healthy.

Doctors said the cancer has not spread but the woman will still receive chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

About 131,500 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in China annually.


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