EBCC: Pregnancy May Protect Breast Cancer Survivors

But women diagnosed postpartum have higher mortality than others diagnosed with the disease
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- Women who become pregnant after surviving breast cancer may actually improve their survival odds, but women with a postpartum diagnosis of breast cancer have increased mortality compared to other women diagnosed with the disease, according to research presented at the European Breast Cancer Conference, held from March 24 to 27 in Barcelona, Spain.

Hatem A. Azim Jr., M.D., of the Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels, Belgium, and colleagues analyzed 14 trials comparing women with breast cancer histories who became pregnant to those who did not. The breast cancer survivors who got pregnant had significantly better survival than those who did not become pregnant (hazard ratio, 0.58), suggesting a protective benefit to pregnancy.

In another study, Angela Ives, of the University of Western Australia in Crawley, and colleagues compared outcomes in women diagnosed with gestational breast cancer (during pregnancy or postpartum) to women who were not pregnant at diagnosis. The women diagnosed with gestational breast cancer postpartum had a 48 percent greater risk of dying than women with non-gestational breast cancer. Those diagnosed during pregnancy had a 3 percent increased risk. In a third study, Sibylle Loibl, M.D., of the University of Frankfurt in Germany, and colleagues compared outcomes in women who had chemotherapy prior to discovering their pregnancy and pregnant women not treated. Infants exposed in utero to neoadjuvant chemotherapy had slightly lower birth weights than babies not exposed. Other abnormalities were in typical ranges.

"Fetal outcome in babies who received intrauterine chemotherapy was not significantly different from those who did not. Pregnant breast cancer patients can be treated as close as possible to standard recommendations in specialized multidisciplinary teams," Loibl and colleagues conclude.

Abstract - Azim
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Abstract - Ives
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Abstract - Loibl
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