A UK woman’s pregnancy that sent all the right signals initially, turned out to be a rare cancer tumor. Worse, she had to give “birth” to get rid of the mass.
Alice Hall and her partner Chrissy Powles of Ross-on-Wye, a southern English town, hope their short-lived, scary run-in with pregnancy can be avoided by others through awareness about a rare form of cancer that can mimic pregnancy, and remain undetected for weeks after pregnancy confirmation.
In a Facebook post, Hall revealed they were elated after learning about the pregnancy last May. Hall, then 20, experienced morning sickness and other classical pregnancy signs, prompting her to take a test. Her doctor visits were scheduled and the duo dove headfirst into parenthood.
Hall told the UK’s Mirror the pregnancy was unexpected, but they decided to welcome it. They even discussed names for the baby. Only eight weeks later did they realize something was wrong.
“Everything seemed pretty normal until after a few weeks I started spotting,” she said, describing her pregnancy ordeal.
“Everyone assured us that this was normal, common etc. But being me and worrying about everything, we went to the doctor and demanded an early scan.”
The scan showed a possible miscarriage, but repeat hormone blood tests suggested Hall’s pregnancy was progressing. Hoping the bleeding was just a scare, Hall went home that day only to return to the hospital in pain the next week. Her medics suspected a pregnancy outside the womb and performed a laparoscopy to rule it out. The procedure revealed her pregnancy was unviable.
Hall was scheduled for a follow-up procedure to flush out all contents of the uterus. To her shock, blood tests continued to reveal high levels of hormones associated with pregnancy even after uterus suction. Her doctors suspected it could be a molar pregnancy where the embryo in the uterus does not grow normally and may have invaded the organ.
Hall was soon scheduled to see a specialist four hours away in London, where scans of her womb would reveal the pregnancy was a cancerous tumor.
“Then a chest x-ray and an MRI. The MRI showed there was a large blood vessel running through the tumor, so they couldn’t just remove it or I would bleed to death/need an emergency hysterectomy.”
The specialists were able to inform the couple the fetus was a Gestational Trophoblastic Neoplasia.
According to the American Cancer Society, Gestational Trophoblastic Disease is a broad term for rare abnormal tumors that arise out of cells forming the placenta. These cells are not part of uterine tissue but come into being after normal implantation of an unviable embryo during early stages of pregnancy. Most cases being benign, gestational trophoblastic cancer is considered very rare. In Hall’s case however, the tumor was cancerous, but she was given an optimistic prognosis as the cancer had not spread.
As the tumor could not be removed through surgery, Hall was put on chemotherapy after diagnosis. She also had to deliver the tumor like giving birth. In the last week of August, more than three months after she learned of her pregnancy, Hall went into painful labor lasting 30 hours to deliver the abnormal mass.
After her treatment, Hall was declared to be in remission last December, the Mirror reported. Though doctors told her there were no hurdles to getting pregnant, she was cautioned about higher risk of gestational tumor formation in future pregnancies.
In her post, Hall warned others, saying, “There are no exact statistics on this, every consultant will tell you something different, but nobody really knows a great deal about it. If you’re pregnant and experience anything you think is weird, please get it checked out.”
[Featured Image by bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock]