Breast Cancer and Pregnancy

Traditional Approaches
Traditionally, doctors have advised women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer to terminate their pregnancies during treatment. Pregnancy causes increased levels of estrogen to circulate in the mother's blood. Increases in circulating estrogen have been associated with more aggressive breast cancers. Doctors are also concerned that the chemotherapy used to treat breast cancer may be damaging to the fetus.

New Evidence
This "pitting of mother against baby" may not be necessary, according to a new study. The study followed 22 women and their babies over an eight-year period. At the conclusion of the study, 70% of the women were alive and disease-free almost four years after delivery. The researchers also found little to no differences in the survival rates of pregnant and non-pregnant breast cancer patients, indicating that the increases in estrogen levels does not affect the outcome of breast cancer.

But what about the baby? According to this study, mastectomy, radiation therapy, and mammography do not have a negative impact on the fetus' health. As for chemotherapy, they did not detect any congenital malformations or obvious defects at birth. Most of the babies were also born at full term and normal weight.

These findings indicate that cancer treatment may be compatible with pregnancy. This is not to say that women who are undergoing cancer treatment should go ahead and get pregnant. It only means that women who are already pregnant when their cancer is diagnosed need not have an abortion if their treatment is properly administered.

Rate this article: (1=lowest, 5=highest) 1    2    3    4    5   

Copyright © 1999 GenneX Healthcare Technologies,Inc.


a listing of scientific articles and texts used.

ARCHIVE (complete)