Chemo during pregnancy may be safe for newborn baby and pregnant women with breast cancer, study says

By on Aug 17, 2012 in Europe, Health, Lifestyle, Parenting Comments

Chemotherapy (or chemo for short) during pregnancy may be safe and may not pose complications for the newborn baby and their mother; this is according to a new study led by German Breast Group to a group of pregnant women with breast cancer.

Pregnant women under check-up
Image Credit: DeAgostini/Getty Images

As noted in the study posted on the online journal of The Lancet Oncology on Wednesday, August 15, 2012, the study on the effect of chemo during pregnancy is to determine whether treatment for breast cancer during pregnancy is safe for both mother and child.

According to the report, patients with a primary diagnosis of breast cancer during pregnancy were recruited from seven European countries. Four hundred forty-four patients were registered from April, 2003 to December, 2011, and 413 of them had early stage of breast cancer.

The age range of the patients was from 22 to 51 years old and median age is 33, and the median gestational age was 24 weeks during the time of diagnosis. Out of the 413 patients, 197 (or 48%) of them received chemo during pregnancy with a median of four cycles.

Based on their interpretation of the result of their study, infants exposed to chemotherapy had more complications than those not exposed to chemotherapy; but premature birth was the cause for their low birth weight and other complications; and not due to the chemo treatment.

“Our findings emphasize the importance of prioritizing a full-term delivery in women who undergo chemotherapy while pregnant. Illness and mortality in newborn babies is directly related to gestational age at delivery,” study leader Sibylle Loibl was quoted in a journal news release.

“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.” Loibl added.

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