Pregnancy Complications: Solid tumor and stem cells
Tumor can be defined as an abnormal cluster of cells while a solid tumor is an abnormal mass of tissue that does not contain any cysts or liquid. Solid tumor can grow in many places such as organs, bones, muscles. Solid tumors may be benign (not cancer), or malignant (cancer), and they’re named according to the type of cells that form them. For example: solid tumors are sarcomas, carcinomas, and lymphomas. Blood cancer (Leukemia) generally does not form solid tumors. Here are a few examples of solid tumor that may grow and cause pregnancy complications:
- Adnexal Mass:An adnexal mass is a lump in tissue of the adnexa of uterus which can be either benign or cancerous, and can be classified as simple or complex.
- Breast cancer:it is a disease which involves the formation of malignant (cancer) cells in the tissues of the breast. Breast cancer might occur during pregnancy or just after the delivery. Symptoms of breast cancer involve a lump or change in the breast.
- Cervical cancer:It begins in a woman’s cervix, which is the lower, narrow portion of the uterus. The uterus holds the foetus during pregnancy. The cervix attaches the lower portion of the uterus to the vagina and, with the vagina, forms the birth canal. Cervical cancer starts when healthy cells present on the surface of the cervix alter and grow uncontrollably which further results into tumor formation which may be malignant or benign.
- Thyroid cancer:It starts in the thyroid gland. A normal thyroid gland contains 2 lobes, 1 on each side of the windpipe, joined through a narrow strip of tissue called the isthmus. A healthy thyroid gland is barely palpable, that is, hard to find by touch. If a tumor grows in the thyroid, it is felt as a lump in the neck.
Breast cancer is the most common diagnosed cancer during pregnancy and within the first year postpartum. Breast cancer occurs in about 1 in 3,000 pregnant women. According to a recent research, adnexal masses occur in 1 per 2328 deliveries. Other pregnancy complications include Cervical cancer, which is discovered in about 1% to 3% of pregnant women or postpartum at the time of diagnosis. Cervical cancer is the most common malignancy diagnosed during pregnancy, with an estimated prevalence of 0.8 to 1.5 cases per 10,000 births. Thyroid cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed malignancy at the time of pregnancy, preceded only by breast cancer with prevalence rate of 14 per 100,000 live births.
Management of solid tumor during pregnancy
Cancer treatments that can be used at the time of pregnancy involve surgery and chemotherapy.
This involves the removal of tumor and some of the surrounding healthy tissue. It causes minimal risk to the growing baby and is considered the safest way to treat cancer during pregnancy.
This treatment includes chemotherapy drugs to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy drugs stop the potential of cancer cells to grow and divide. However, there is a chance of harm to the foetus if chemotherapy is given in the first 3 months of gestation since is the time when foetus’s organs are still growing. During the first trimester chemotherapy carries possibility of birth defects or pregnancy loss, and is thus, avoided.
Usage of stem cells on solid tumors
The human umbilical cord is a promising source of mesenchymal stem cells (hUCMSCs). hUCMSCs have a painless collection procedure and faster self-renewal properties. They can differentiate into the three germ layers that promote tissue repair and modulate immune responses and anti-cancer properties. Thus, they are attractive autologous or allogeneic agents for the treatment of malignant and non-malignant solid and soft cancers. Medical research has demonstrated that stem cells derived from umbilical cord blood suppress tumor growth and are able to produce factors which further inhibit cancer cell growth and promote apoptosis, and so may be used as novel therapeutic tool in cancer therapy. Furthermore, several studies reported the role of stem cells in suppressing tumor stimulating inflammation and their ability to promote damaged tissue repair and regeneration. Stem cells possess the ability to deliver anticancer therapeutics to tumor sites and also have potential for tissue repair which further demonstrates the potential of stem cells as an effective therapeutic tool for the treatment of different kinds of tumor.
Additionally, the therapeutic advantage of hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) has been investigated by several researchers for the treatment of selected solid tumors. Storb et al determined that the allogeneic graft-versus-tumor (GVT) effects observed in patients who received HSCT for haematological malignancies have stimulated trials of allogeneic HSCT in patients with refractory metastatic solid tumors. The graft-versus-leukemia (GVL) effect is significant constituent of the therapeutic effect of allogeneic HSCT. Several studies from experimental animal models as well as from preliminary clinical trials demonstrate that a GVT effect, analogous to the GVL effect, may be induced against solid tumors such as breast cancer, renal cell cancer, and other malignancies.