Cancer during pregnancy: what is the role of maternal serum and placental biomarkers? A review and commentary


Cancer during pregnancy, referred to as gestational cancer (GC), is infrequent but can occur in 1.0% of pregnant women. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is often lethal and is the fifth most common cancer worldwide, while breast adenocarcinoma (breast cancer) is the most common cancer seen during pregnancy. Liver and breast carcinomas are two examples of cancer types that present challenges to the obstetrician due to late and/or delayed diagnosis during pregnancy. Delays in diagnosis limit choices available to physicians regarding surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. In view of such clinical situations, a role for maternal serum and placental biomarker (MSPB) screening results contributing to cancer diagnosis should be recognized; overlooking such data in GC could result from a lack of knowledge and understanding of MSPB biology, chemistry, and physiology. In this report, obstetricians and perinatologists seeking a diagnosis are urged to take advantage of available results from MSPB screening programs obtained from first- and second-trimester patient data. Using liver and breast cancer as examples, the present review and commentary seeks to demonstrate that MSPB levels, profiles, patterns, and cellular responses could provide foundational data in planning invasive or noninvasive methods and procedures (biopsy, imaging, scans, surgery) to attain a diagnosis as soon as possible in pregnancy. Finally, MSPB epidemiological and cancer risk studies could aid in providing baseline information for decisions regarding GC diagnosis from knowledge of their proposed roles in reducing lifetime risk of malignancies such as breast cancer.

Tumori 2014; 100(6): 581 - 589

Article Type: REVIEW



Gerald J Mizejewski

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  • Mizejewski, Gerald J [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
    Wadsworth Center, Division of Translational Medicine, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY, USA

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