Approach to Radical Hysterectomy for Cervical Cancer in Pregnancy: Surgical Pathway and Ethical Considerations
Guerrisi R., Smyth SL., Ismail L., Horne A., Ferrari F., Soleymani majd H.
Introduction. Cervical cancer is currently the fourth most common cancer in women and in the poorest countries this neoplasia still represents a widespread and potentially lethal disease. We present a rare case of cervical cancer in pregnancy, analyzing the historical changes behind the procedure of radical hysterectomy for cervical cancer and discussing variations in surgical techniques and anatomical definitions that have since been proposed. Results. We present the case of a 33-year-old patient who attended with vaginal bleeding in the second trimester of pregnancy. Examination revealed an abnormal looking cervix, with investigations concluding stage IIb squamous cell carcinoma. Following extensive discussion regarding management options, the patient went on to have a peripartum foetocidal type III nerve sparing radical Wertheim hysterectomy at 18 weeks gestation with conservation and transposition of the ovaries above the level of the pelvic brim. The patient recovered well without significant morbidity and received further input from fertility and psychological medical teams in addition to adjuvant treatment within the department of clinical oncology. Discussion. This case represents several elements of great interest and learning. Notably, we highlight this both due to the surgical challenges that a gravid uterus presents in the execution of a radical hysterectomy; and regarding the compassionate care demonstrated by the team - not only in supporting the patient and her partner in a period of profound turmoil in terms of the management of their cancer diagnosis and unborn child, but also regarding the uncertainty in consideration of the oncological and fertility related outcomes. Conclusion. This manuscript adds to the growing literature on the appropriate use of radical surgery for cervical cancer, more specifically during pregnancy and in consideration of such ethical dilemma, where management guidelines do not exist to aid clinicians further in their provision of treatment.