File photo: The condition, which affects one in 600 women giving birth in the UK each year, is called a molar pregnancy. In one in ten cases it becomes cancerous. Picture: StockSnap/Pixabay
File photo: The condition, which affects one in 600 women giving birth in the UK each year, is called a molar pregnancy. In one in ten cases it becomes cancerous. Picture: StockSnap/Pixabay

Mom diagnosed with rare cancer moments after giving birth

By Victoria Allen Time of article published Mar 9, 2020

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London - It should be one of the happiest moments of a woman’s life.

But for Danielle Jones having a baby caused her to get cancer which spread to her spine and brain.

Jones, 29, developed a rare condition which meant her pregnancy caused cancer to grow in her womb.

The condition, which affects one in 600 women giving birth in the UK each year, is called a molar pregnancy. In one in ten cases it becomes cancerous.

Just two weeks after giving birth to her daughter Averly, Jones was diagnosed with choriocarcinoma cancer and told she would have to start four months of gruelling chemotherapy.

At a time when most women enjoy bonding with their baby, Jones, from Rhyl, North Wales, had to stop breastfeeding because of the drugs she was on. She was too weak even to lift her daughter. 

The mother-of-two was later given the cancer all-clear. Recalling her shock, she said: "It was an absolute whirlwind – finding out so quickly after giving birth that I had cancer.

"I was told the cancer was in my liver, lungs, brain and spine. I thought I would be leaving my husband behind on his own with our new baby and our son Wesley. I had never heard of this condition before and had no idea I had it while I was pregnant."

A molar pregnancy goes wrong at conception and causes abnormal cells to grow in the womb instead of a healthy baby and placenta. Many women who are affected lose their baby early in the pregnancy, while others who believe they are pregnant have no baby and only the abnormal tissue.

Jones is extremely unusual in having had her baby before she realised anything was wrong. The first sign of the cancer, which had already spread to her spine, was extreme back pain which she mistook for sciatica in late 2018.

Jones, whose son Wesley is three, said: "I was having chemotherapy every week and injections into my spine to target the cancer in my brain. My hair started to fall out on Christmas Day." 

She needed four months of chemotherapy, which could last 36 hours at a time. However, unlike most cases of cancer, 99 percent of those caused by molar pregnancies are cured.

Jones has now been clear for a year, although she has a higher risk of the cancer coming back with future pregnancies so will not have any more children. She is about to start a job as a clerk in an NHS cancer unit while her husband Luke is a healthcare support worker.

She said: "I didn’t know having Averly meant I would get cancer but I’d do it all again if it meant I could have her. I am blessed I didn’t lose her, as many women with molar pregnancies do."

Jones, part of a Facebook group called GTN Awareness and Support, is now hoping to help women like her after signing up to a molar pregnancy research study. It could lead to a simple blood test, providing a quicker diagnosis.

The research is funded by Sheffield-based Weston Park Cancer Charity – one of two specialist centres which diagnose and treat patients like her in the UK.

Dr Victoria Parker, of Sheffield University, who previously worked at Weston Park, is running the study. She said: "It can take months to diagnose women currently. If we can do that earlier and work out who will develop cancer, it can help with counselling them and relieving their psychological burden."

Daily Mail

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