Pregnancy and heart health after childhood cancer

Pregnancy and heart health after childhood cancer

If you are pregnant and have had childhood cancer treatment, there are some special checks you need to have.

Key points to remember about pregnancy and heart health after childhood cancer

This page is written for young people who have had cancer treatment.

  • some chemotherapy medicines and radiation can affect your heart
  • if you're pregnant, make sure your maternity carers know about the childhood cancer treatment you've had
  • your healthcare team may need to check your heart during pregnancy

What happens to the heart during pregnancy?

You might like to first read Your heart after childhood cancer.

During pregnancy and labour the heart needs to work much harder because it has to pump more blood around your body. Heart problems can sometimes develop when you're pregnant.

Make sure your maternity carers know what treatment you received - remember to give them a copy of your treatment summary ('health passport'), available from your LEAP team. Check the LEAP contacts at An introduction to long-term follow-up after childhood cancer.

Most young women do not have any problems but your healthcare team may need to check your heart during pregnancy.

Current recommendations about pregnancy and your heart after childhood cancer

Make sure your maternity carers have a copy of your treatment summary.

Echocardiogram

If you have had a heart scan (echocardiogram) before becoming pregnant and this was normal, you won't need further routine scans. If not, then you should have a heart scan during the first 3 months of pregnancy. If you develop shortness of breath, unexpected tiredness, blood pressure changes or ankle swelling, then you will need another heart scan. You will probably need to see the high-risk maternity team.

Specialised care

You may need specialist care - this might be from a medical doctor (obstetrician or GP). You will also be under the care of your midwife.

Your healthcare team may suggest a hospital birth rather than a home birth if they think you are high risk.

Checking your heart during each pregnancy after childhood cancer

Even if your heart is fine during your first pregnancy, checking your heart is still important during any further pregnancies.

All the pages in the childhood cancer section of this website have been written by health professionals who work in the field of paediatric oncology. They have been reviewed by the members of the National Child Cancer Network (NZ). Medical information is authorised by the clinical leader of the National Child Cancer Network.

This page last reviewed 13 November 2019.
Email us your feedback


On this page