Pregnancy after Breast Cancer
It is really nice to write about a happy topic. When I first began this work, thirty years ago, women were routinely told not to consider a pregnancy after breast cancer treatment. Some doctors were willing to write letters of support for adoption, but there was concern about that due to worry about the mother's future health.
Things have changed. Not only are more women doing fine after treatment, but it is now recognized that pregnancy is not usually a dangerous decision re possible recurrence. Women are often advised to wait a year or two, but, after that, most doctors will support the plan. Here is an excerpt from the European Breast Cancer Conference and then a link to hear a podcast with much more:
"What we found—contrary to the perception of the medical community—was that women who got pregnant following a breast cancer diagnosis actually had a longer survival," Hatem Azim, MD, of the Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels, said in an interview.
The 1,417 patients in the study who became pregnant after a diagnosis of breast cancer had their risk of death reduced by 40% on average compared with patients in the control group of 18,059 breast cancer survivors who did not become pregnant, suggesting a protective effect of pregnancy.
Still, Dr. Azim cautioned, that needed to be interpreted with caution because of possible selection bias, since the women who got pregnant were generally relapse-free.
But because of this potential bias, his team then analyzed data from three studies selecting controls who were relapse-free between diagnosis and conception, and the results still showed positive data for the effect of pregnancy—"which means that even if we control for relapse, women who get pregnant following breast cancer diagnosis have a better outcome," he said.
He acknowledged that it is still not known for certain that pregnancy is protective, but he strongly endorsed the policy of not denying women who want to get pregnant the option of doing so, especially on grounds of maximizing their quality of life.
The researchers talk more about this topic in an
OT Broadcast News interview with Peter Goodwin, accessible on the Podcast link at
http://oncology-times.com , or via iTunes.