Battling breast cancer while pregnant

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. – It’s estimated that nearly forty percent of American men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes.

For some of those women the diagnosis comes at a particularly difficult time: When they’re pregnant, which leads to special considerations and risks when it comes to treating these patients.

Shortly after Nia Williams learned she was pregnant with her second child she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

Following four rounds of chemo, Williams went into early labor with her son Vincenzo.

“They did an emergency C-section and that was really scary because a C-section is scary as it is, but I was on chemo,” Williams said.

Dr. Alejandra del Toro, a medical oncologist with GenesisCare in Coral Gables, Fla. said when treating pregnant women with cancer, timing is the main concern, specifically how far along the patient is in her pregnancy.

“In the first trimester the baby is developing it’s organs so if there’s an indication to give chemotherapy, we try to avoid it in the first trimester because that will definitely be toxic to the fetus,” del Toro said.

She said as long as the mother’s life isn’t at risk, chemotherapy is postponed until the second or third trimester when the risk of side effects to the fetus are lower.

“There hasn’t been a lot of evidence to suggest fetal malformations and so on but there is some association with pre-term delivery,” del Toro said.

Although Vincenzo was born early, Williams said he shows no side effects from the chemo.

“He’s perfect they were like we did every test possible we could do and he’s perfect, so, that’s it so we’re doing good, just trying to stay positive stay healthy,” she said.

Willliams is still going through treatment but says having her son and daughter Ava by her side gives her strength.

According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately one-in-1000 pregnant women is diagnosed with cancer.

Newer treatments, such as immunotherapy and targeted drugs have not been evaluated for this group of patients.

Anyone interested in helping the family can visit this GoFundMe page.

About the Authors:

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.