A recent news release from MedlinePlus stated that women who require chemotherapy for breast cancer during pregnancy may not need to compromise their own treatment or deliver prematurely.
According to a study recently published in The Lancet Oncology, researchers in Germany found that babies born to breast cancer patients who had received chemotherapy while pregnant did not experience any significant complications. In addition, babies that did suffer from complications were premature, regardless if they were exposed to chemotherapy or not.
Researchers examined more than 400 European women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer while pregnant. Of those women, 48 percent received chemotherapy treatment.
The infants exposed to chemotherapy had a lower birth weight than those infants not exposed. The below average birth weight was the only noticeable difference. Complications were more so associated with preterm delivery as half of the women in the study delivered prematurely. To put it into perspective, 23 percent of these women gave birth before they were 35 weeks pregnant -- approximately 10 to 15 percent of infants are born preterm in the general population. Loibi states:
Illness and mortality in newborn babies is directly related to gestational age at delivery. This is an important clinical message because the decision to deliver the fetus preterm is often taken without medical indication. Our work suggests that treating patients with breast cancer while pregnant is possible, and there is no need to interrupt the pregnancy or receive inferior therapy.
This may be good news for pregnant women diagnosed with breast cancer or other types of solid tumor malignancies, for that matter. It may, on the other hand, be a bit more challenging for pregnant women diagnosed with a cancer such as leukemia considering the treatment regimen involved and the ongoing issue of pancytopenia.
More research is necessary in order to determine the long term effects that children may face when having been exposed to chemotherapy in utero.
What would you do if faced with the situation of being diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant?