Human Development

No Reason to Delay Pregnancy After Breast Cancer Diagnosis (BMJ, 1/07)

New research from scientists in Australia questions the old adage that a woman who contracts breast cancer should wait at least two years before becoming pregnant.

The study shows that, as is the case when a woman considers having an abortion, a pregnancy has a protective effect...

Publishing their data in the most recent issue of the British Medical Journal, the researchers concluded that the usual recommendation to delay pregnancy for two years after the diagnosis of breast cancer is not valid. Although the basis for the two year wait recommendation for women with localized breast cancer who have completed therapy is unclear the scientists set out to validate the assumption. They examined 2539 women aged 15-44 in Western Australia who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1982 and 2000.

They reported that 123 (5%) of these women subsequently became pregnant. Sixty-two (54%) of these women conceived in less than 2 years from the diagnosis of breast cancer.

They ultimately found that pregnancy was associated with an improved survival. The five year overall survival was 92% and 10-year overall survival was 86%, and there were no major differences in outcome between early and late pregnancies. The researchers concluded that women who are not receiving chemotherapy can begin to conceive as early as six months after diagnosis without compromising outcomes or pregnancies.  

Other studies have shown that there are two breast cancer risks are associated with an abortion. The first includes the loss of protection a full-term pregnancy afford women in terms of the beneficial effects it has on a woman's breast. The second concerns the additional risk the abortion itself causes.

An October study published in the International Journal of Cancer confirms previous research showing that carrying a pregnancy to term reduces a woman's risk. "It is well established that pregnancies that end in a full-term birth ultimately confer a protective effect on breast cancer risk," Dr. Gillian K. Reeves, of the University of Oxford, wrote in the IJC research article.

Previous studies have also confirmed that carrying a pregnancy to term reduces the breast cancer risk. Researchers at the German Cancer Research Center found a woman's risk of contracting breast cancer is lowered and the decrease is more substantial the more pregnancies a woman has had. nat2309.html.

The source for the new breast cancer study is: Ives A, Saunders C, Bulsara et al. Pregnancy after Breast Cancer: Population based study. British Medical Journal 2007;334:194-200. [31Jan07, posted 1Feb07, Canberra, Australia, LifeNews.com]