Mother credits her unborn son for saving her from a potentially deadly cancer
At a routine 20-week sonogram, doctors found a 14cm mass in Susan's right kidney and declared it a clear case of tumour in pregnancy. Read on to know what happened next.
Having a baby can be life changing, but for 40-year-old Susan O’Flanagan, it literally saved her life. At a routine 20-week sonogram, doctors found a 14cm (5.5inch) mass in her right kidney. They told her that she had a tumour in pregnancy, and it was as big as her baby.
She was also informed that as a precaution, and perhaps even to save her life, she may have to abort her pregnancy.
Tumour in pregnancy creates a huge scare for UK woman
“It was only by chance that the sonographer saw the tumor because Archie was lying the wrong way around. So she needed to hold the ultrasound probe in a different position to measure his head,” she told a local daily, adding that it was at that moment that the doctor found the tumour.
“When she told me she’d seen a mass there, I was so scared,” O’Flanagan added.
Her tumour in pregnancy even shocked the medical staff at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital. During their examination they found that they were unable to use CT scans or a biopsy to identify the nature of the tumour.
They wanted to make sure that it was not cancerous before they attempted to remove it.
So they decided to wait till after the baby was born.
O’Flanagan explains why. “Luckily regular MRI scans showed that the tumour wasn’t growing so teams at Guy’s and St Thomas’ decided that it was safe for me to continue with the pregnancy while being closely monitored. As the baby grew, and with the pressure from my tumour, it became increasingly uncomfortable and painful, and I felt ill all the time.”
“One of the scans even showed the baby kicking the tumour,” she added.
Although she says she did not have any symptoms from her cancer, the tumour was cancerous and had it not been for her baby she might never have known.
Baby Archie saved mum from cancer
“So if I hadn’t been pregnant I may not have found out about it until a later stage,” she admitted, adding “I don’t think Archie will ever realise how special he is.”
In her 34th week, O’Flanagan was induced, and Archie was brought into the world.
Four weeks after the delivery, the medics used robotic surgery to remove the 5.5 inch mass from her right kidney. As The Mirror reports, “They look down a small camera at the end of one arm to see inside the patient and the machine gives them a 3D HD view while they operate, eliminates tremor and provides an increased range of movement.”
Unusual case of tumour in pregnancy, say doctors
Ben Challacombe, consultant urological surgeon, Guy’s and St Thomas’, told the daily, “This was a very unusual case — we perform 450 cases of robotic surgery a year at Guy’s Hospital as part of our large robotic surgery programme but this was different to anything we’d done before.”
He added, “Kidney cancer is very rare in a young woman and this was more unusual still because Susan was pregnant.”
Thankfully, O’Flanagan’s cancer did not spread to any other part of her body and all her tests have come out clear. But her story does remind us of the importance of pregnancy scans.
Had it not been for her pregnancy and the scan, the medics may never have identified the tumour in pregnancy. And in case you are wondering which pregnancy scans you should opt for, here is a list of five you must undertake.
5 pregnancy scans all expecting mums must have
Typically, there are five scans you will go through during your pregnancy.
These include the Dating and Viability scan (carried out between sixth and ninth week), Nuchal Translucency (NT) scan (carried out between 11 and 13 weeks), Anomaly scan (carried out between 18 and 20 weeks), Growth scan (carried out between 28 and 30 weeks), and Colour Doppler scan (carried out between 36 and 40 weeks).
As mentioned in our previous article, apart from checking the growth, these scans also reveal the following:
- Placement of the fertilised egg, where the placenta grows
- Development of the baby’s heartbeat
- Number of babies you may have conceived
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Accurate date of delivery
- Bleeding during pregnancy
- Down syndrome
- Placement of the baby and the placenta
- Growth of the baby’s organs
- Amount of amniotic fluid
- Blood flow in the uterus
Remember that these pregnancy scans are informative and extremely helpful for a mother-to-be and the developing baby. So do not miss your appointments, ladies.