Coming to Terms with Lung Cancer During Pregnancy

An increasing incidence of lung cancer is expected among pregnant women due to the increasing rate of cigarette smoking in young women.

Lung Cancer during pregnancy is a rare situation, with an estimated incidence of 1 in 1000 pregnancies. However, this rate is likely to rise in the next decades on account of the delay of childbearing to the later reproductive age.

The most common types of lung cancer are, 

  • Lung Adenocarcinoma, a type of non-small cell lung cancer, starts in cells in your air sacs that make mucus and other substances, often in the outer parts of your lungs. It accounts for 80 percent of lung cancers in young adults. Among older adults, lung adenocarcinoma is found is slightly less than 50 percent of the time
  • Squamous cell (epidermoid) carcinoma starts in cells that line the inner airways of the lungs. About a quarter of lung cancers are this kind.
  • Large cell (undifferentiated) carcinoma grows and spreads more quickly. That can make it tougher to treat. It’s about 10% of lung cancers.

Watch out for Lung Cancer Symptoms

If you or someone you love has any of the following issues, see your doctor right away. 

  • Persistent or chronic cough
  • Fatigue that doesn’t go away with rest
  • Headaches
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Recurring chest, shoulder, or back pain that may feel like a constant ache
  • Neurological symptoms, such as unsteady gait or memory loss
  • Neck or facial swelling
  • Vocal hoarseness
  • Shortness of breath

Talk to your doctor about any family history of cancer or individual risk factors such as radon or asbestos exposure, or a history of smoking or being around second-hand smoke.


Lung cancer treatment depends on the gestational week of the pregnancy, patient’s medical status, social, personal, familial, and even religious beliefs.

For pregnant patients with lung cancer, the standard of care is chemotherapy during the second and third trimesters, but the prognosis is poor.

After a diagnosis of cancer in pregnancy, the decision about how to proceed should be made by a multidisciplinary team including surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, gynaecologists, obstetricians, neonatologists, pediatricians, geneticists, clinical pharmacologists, and psychologists, with active involvement and support from the family of the pregnant patient.


The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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