Multidisciplinary team saves pregnant woman with cancer

Writer: Windy Shao  |  Editor: Holly Wang  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2022-05-13

A multidisciplinary team at the Third People’s Hospital of Shenzhen has removed a malignant liver tumor with a diameter of 6 centimeters from a woman at 20 weeks pregnant, DT News reported Wednesday.

The woman, surnamed Zhang, is recovering and her fetus is in good condition after surgery conducted by the team, which was led by Li Zhiwei, head of hepatobiliary surgery at the hospital.

The symptoms of pregnant patients with liver cancer are nausea, vomiting and abdominal distension, which are often mistaken as common symptoms during pregnancy. Once detected, many pregnant women are in late stages of cancer, with a very high mortality rate, and it is rare for a mother and a fetus to be saved at the same time, the report said.

In April 2022, doctors discovered that Zhang, who was 18 weeks pregnant, had an abnormal increase in alpha fetoprotein, a common clinical tumor marker. However, Zhang had a history of hepatitis B for over 20 years, so her doctors suggested that she should have a color Doppler ultrasound of her liver. The results showed that her liver displayed a space-occupying lesion with a 6-centimeter diameter, which did not rule out the possibility of liver cancer.

After being transferred to the Third People’s Hospital for examination, the team thought it was more likely to be liver cancer. Experts from hepatobiliary surgery and ultrasound department joined the consultation.

Li suggested that pregnant women in the second trimester like Zhang can choose to terminate or continue pregnancy. In both occasions, the cancer must be removed as soon as possible.

Given the pregnant woman’s strong will, the team finally agreed to perform liver cancer resection, with the treatment principle to save the mother first.

Zhang’s liver cancer is in the middle stage, without obvious signs of diffusion and metastasis found. The operation was carried out smoothly on May 6, with both mother and fetus in good condition.

Li suggested that pregnant women with hepatitis B should carry out pregnancy under the scientific guidance of specialists.