Haematologic malignancy presenting during pregnancy or the post-partum period is rare occurring in approximately 1 in 1000 pregnancies. Lymphomas, followed by leukaemia are the most common diagnoses –reflecting the non-pregnant population demographic. However, due to the increased medical monitoring during pregnancy some are diagnosed incidentally at an early stage. Equally however, many of the symptoms of a haematological malignancy are also dismissed as being those of a normal pregnancy, leading to late or catastrophic presentations.
Treatment of malignancy is often able to proceed with a favourable outcome in the majority of patients, with the goal being curative maternal treatment, with harm minimization to the foetus. Apart from any direct effects of the maternal malignancy (anaemia, placental haemorrhage, infection), the greatest risk for the foetus is premature delivery with evidence that children exposed to chemotherapy in utero are at no greater risk than peers for developmental, physical or psychological issues.
Management of pregnancy with close liaison between obstetric and haematology teams can result in optimal outcomes for both mother and infant.