If you’re pregnant and diagnosed with cancer, what do you do? Is it safe to receive chemotherapy? Could the cancer or the chemo harm the baby? According to a recent study led by the German Breast Group, pregnant women with cancer might not be putting their babies at risk by undergoing chemotherapy treatments as long the chemo is given after the first trimester, when most of the baby’s critical growth occurs.
Pregnant & Diagnosed With Cancer? Here’s the dealio (as my daughter always says)…
This study followed more than 400 pregnant women in Europe who were diagnosed with breast cancer. The results? Little to no evidence of negative health effects on infants whose mothers underwent chemotherapy.
Although infants whose mothers were treated with chemotherapy weighed less than those that weren’t (exposed to chemotherapy), the infants were not at higher risk of birth defects, blood disorders or loss of hair. Additionally, most complications were reported in babies who were delivered prematurely, irrespective of exposure to chemotherapy.
Approximately one in a thousand women who are pregnant are diagnosed with cancer. And incidences of pregnant women with cancer are growing. Experts believe this is because many women are delaying childbirth until later in their lives. (The 2 biggest factors in receiving a diagnosis of cancer are having had cancer before and age.) When diagnosed, pregnant women tend to be at a more advanced stage because cancer symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for signs of pregnancy, thus making chemotherapy treatment even more complex. Now, this research has increasingly brought hope to women who are pregnant with cancer or those who become pregnant after a cancer diagnosis.
THE BOTTOMLINE: The initial research looks promising. But more research needs to be done on the potential physical and mental effects of chemotherapy drugs on a child later in its life. Dr. Elyce Cardonick, a maternal fetal medicine physician at Cooper University Hospital in New Jersey said “This growing evidence may play a critical role in giving doctors confidence to treat pregnant cancer patients. The role of chemotherapy is to save the patient to be a mom. It’s a risk-to-benefit ratio. Nothing is 100 percent safe.”
(Source: ABC News)
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