Long Island cancer institute opens center for pregnant women

NEW HYDE PARK, Long Island (WABC) -- Northwell Health announced Wednesday it is opening a cancer center for pregnant women that is believed to be the first of its kind in the country.

"As you can imagine, during a very difficult time for a patient, when they're pregnant, to have to go running around to multiple locations to get the best care possible, really it's not convenient for the patients and their families," said Dr. Richard Barakat, the Physician-in-Chief at the Northwell Health Cancer Institute. " It's stressful. Where we can muster those forces and bring them all together in one location, that's the best thing for the patient."

The Center for Cancer, Pregnancy and Reproduction, based at Northwell's Monter Cancer Center in New Hyde Park, will bring together all the doctors needed to care for a pregnant woman with cancer, including oncologists, neonatologists, surgical oncologists, maternal fetal medicine, OB-GYN, radiologists, hematologists and more.

All the patient's records will be stored in one location.

Dr. Barakat said the center will also assist women who want to preserve their fertility, including egg harvesting and embryo freezing, before going through chemotherapy.

Doctors will also be able to help women who have had hormone-related cancers in the past and are considered high-risk pregnancies.

On hand for the announcement Wednesday was East Norwich resident Michelle Cohen, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 26 weeks pregnant.

She had surgery while pregnant to have an ovary removed, underwent several rounds of chemotherapy and then finally delivered a healthy baby boy via C-section at 37 weeks.

Franklin Cohen, now 7 months old, is doing well, and Cohen is cancer free.

Michelle Cohen said she is grateful to her team of doctors at Northwell Health.

"I am so happy this center will be opening for moms and their babies," she said through tears.

Dr. Barakat said the center anticipates treating 40 to 50 pregnant women every year and that the center will also keep a registry of all the babies whose mothers are treated to track if chemotherapy had any effect on the babies' development -- an area of medicine that has not been widely studied.

CLICK HERE for more information about Northwell Health's new Center for Cancer, Pregnancy and Reproduction.

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