Multiple-birth pregnancies are often complicated, said Ashley's doctor, Julie Scott, a high-risk obstetrician at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora. As a result, Ashley wanted to wait until after the babies were born at 30 weeks to undergo cancer surgery. She delivered one boy and three girls, two of them identical twins, on August 26.
Her surgery, a seven-hour procedure that included a thyroidectomy and lymph node removal, took place a few weeks later and was successful.
Scott has seen thousands of patients, many with higher-order (three or more fetuses) pregnancies. She said it is not uncommon to diagnose cancer in pregnant women because that's often when they have their first extensive health examinations. What's scary is that the cancer may have been lying untreated -- and spreading -- for years.
"Ashley has probably had that cancer for several years, and it went undiagnosed, probably because with her young age," Scott said. "The doctors missed the warning signs."
Image: Pregnant belly, via Shutterstock