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Because pregnancy increases hormones that may fuel cancer cells, breast cancer survivors have long feared that motherhood could increase the chance of cancer recurrence.

“Oncologists have always told women with invasive cancer to wait at least five years before becoming pregnant and that, even then, it was a bad idea,” says Dr. Melvin Silverstein [med dir, Lee Breast Center, Univ of Southern CA].


Now, researchers [Univ of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston] studied 383 patients, 35 and younger, who had undergone chemotherapy, including 47 women who became pregnant.

The risk of recurrence of cancer was 25 % among women who conceived and 54 % among those who did not conceive. The authors, led by Dr. L. Johnetta Blakely, said the figures may reflect that women seeking to become pregnant tend to be healthier overall.

[1Feb04 Cancer, the journal of the American Cancer Society;  St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 5Jan04;]