Massive 5kg tumour removed from woman after son’s birth

Savannah Meacham |

Emily Wiles had a 5kg tumour removed from her ovaries during the birth of her son Eli.
Emily Wiles had a 5kg tumour removed from her ovaries during the birth of her son Eli.

A young mum had no idea she had a life-threatening 5kg tumour until just days before she gave birth.

Emily Wiles, 28, was 30 weeks pregnant when she started experiencing cramping that continued to worsen over several weeks.

She went to Brisbane’s Mater Hospital at 33 weeks pregnant and had an ultrasound which revealed a devastating diagnosis – a growth on her ovaries.

“We were shocked there was a tumour growing alongside baby this whole time,” Ms Wiles’ husband Luke said.

The best plan of action for the soon-to-be mum was to undergo a caesarean birth while simultaneously having surgery to remove the growth.

Doctors then found the astonishing 5kg tumour.

Unfortunately the growth was Hypercalcemic Type – one of the most dangerous forms of ovarian cancer.

“Had I not been pregnant, I would have associated the symptoms with periods – cramping, funny bowel movements – and I find that to be really scary,” Ms Wiles said.

Thankfully, baby Eli was born safe and well albeit seven weeks early.

His early birth was more of a health concern than growing alongside a tumour.

“Cancer rarely affects the baby or crosses the placenta – the biggest risk to the baby in utero is that the mother is unwell,” said Mater Mothers’ Hospitals’ Dr Sarah Janssens.

He weighed in at 2.3kg and received specialist care at the hospital before returning home to settle into life with his mum, dad and brother.

Emily Wiles and baby Eli at Mater Hospital in Brisbane.
Emily Wiles and baby at Mater Hospital in Brisbane after a 5kg tumour was removed from her ovaries. (HANDOUT/MATER HOSPITAL)

Since giving birth, Ms Wiles has been undergoing chemotherapy and will have a stem cell transplant as her doctors “throw the book” at her battle against ovarian cancer.

“The evidence we do have suggests very aggressive treatments return the best outcome and survival for the patient,” said Dr Catherine Shannon, Mater Cancer Care Centre Senior Medical Oncologist.

Ms Wiles’ type of ovarian cancer is extremely rare.

Only one in every 10,000 women diagnosed with the disease will have that subtype.

“The symptoms of ovarian cancer are similar across all subtypes,” said Dr Rhett Morton, Mater Hospital Brisbane Gynaecological Oncologist.

“They are often non-specific abdominal or pelvic symptoms that may only be noticed when tumour growth has become advanced and can be frequently attributed to other conditions.”

February marks Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

Around 1300 Australian women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2022.

It is the deadliest gynaecological cancer, with a five-year survival rate of 49 per cent.

Women experiencing common symptoms like bloating, eating less and feeling fuller, abdominal pain and bladder problems should see a doctor.