Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Cancer? How about a Virgo? I'll even take a Taurus!

News flash: Getting pregnant can give you cancer.

No, you're not reading the Weekly World News. It's really true. Little did I know that trying to get pregnant can lead to the Big C. In fact, cancer was the farthest thing from my mind when Cait and I had our romantic, candle-lit, tender babymaking session clinical, stirrup-straddled, fluorescent medical IUI back in July.

But lo and behold, hydatidiform moles are a precancerous condition, and if beta hCG levels do not drop appropriately (or heaven forfend, rise) it's quite possible that the nasty little trophoblastic cells have decided that they are no longer content merely to be in the uterine cavity, but prefer to invade the uterine wall itself. From there, they can spread out and colonize the lungs or even the brain. Sounds like science fiction, but it's cold, hard fact.

If your betas don't behave, the first course of action is usually one or more methotrexate shots in the butt. Treatment protocols vary. You might get a shot a day for five days, or perhaps weekly shots, or sporadic shots depending on the progress (or lack thereof) of your betas. If you're really, really lucky, your betas will stall out completely or rise repeatedly, at which point the doctors will want to bring out the big gun: full-on chemo. I myself barely escaped this fate by the skin of my teeth. More on that later.

Luckily (and I mean it this time), gestational trophoblastic disease is virtually always cured by these methods. And once it's gone, the rate of recurrence is no greater than your original risk of having a molar pregnancy. The analogy I like to use is getting a cold: after it's gone, you're no more likely to get another cold than you were before the first one.

But I hope you never get this kind of "cold".


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