Thyroid Cancer and Pregnancy

Dr. Richard Bebb, MD, ABIM FRCPC, Endocrinologist, discusses thyroid cancer treatment during or after pregnancy.

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Dr. Richard Bebb, MD, ABIM FRCPC, Endocrinologist, discusses thyroid cancer treatment during or after pregnancy.
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Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Richard Bebb, MD, ABIM, FRCPC

Duration: 2 minutes, 8 seconds

The question about pregnancy and thyroid cancer is a bit complexing, and there’s two important scenarios to consider.

The first is what if you are diagnosed with thyroid cancer while you’re pregnant? The good news is we can generally avoid any adverse effect on the pregnancy. Because this particular type, differentiated thyroid cancer in particular we’re talking about, tends to be slow-growing. It is occasionally reasonable to wait until the pregnancy’s over, and then have your surgery and treatment.

If that’s not considered to be in your best interest, then occasionally, in the middle part of the pregnancy, the second trimester, it’s considered a lower-risk time to have the thyroid surgery, and then have the rest of the therapy after the pregnancy is completed, and ideally after breastfeeding is completed as well.

The other important consideration is if you’ve had your thyroid removed and you’re on thyroid hormone replacement, and you’re planning to get pregnant. It is important to make sure that your thyroid blood levels are normal at the time of conception and throughout the pregnancy.

Normally, your thyroid would make 30, 40, 50 percent more hormone during a pregnancy. If your thyroid’s been removed, it cannot do that, and you therefore must take over an adjusted dose.

And that requires frequent blood tests during the pregnancy and adjustments of the dose as the pregnancy proceeds. Generally, once you’ve delivered, you go right back to your pre-pregnancy dose, and you carry on.

If you have questions about the treatment of thyroid disease during pregnancy, do discuss them with your primary care practitioner.

Presenter: Dr. Richard Bebb