U.S. study finds pregnancy seems safe for breast cancer survivors

  • Jun. 6, 2017 2:20 p.m.

CHICAGO — A study gives reassuring news for breast cancer survivors who want to have children. Those who later became pregnant were no more likely to have their cancer come back than those who did not have a baby.

It’s a big issue — the average age of moms has been rising in the United States, and more women are being diagnosed with breast cancer in their childbearing years. About 11 per cent of new breast cancer cases in the U.S. are in women under 45.

The study, done in Europe, is the largest so far on women whose cancers were fueled by hormones, which rise in pregnancy and theoretically, might spur a recurrence.

“Having a family is one of the most important achievements in a person’s life,” said study leader Dr. Matteo Lambertini of the Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels, Belgium. These results show that “pregnancy after breast cancer can be considered safe.”

The research involved more than 1,200 breast cancer survivors. More than half had tumors whose growth was fueled by estrogen. After treatment, 333 became pregnant, about two and a half years after their cancer diagnosis, on average. Researchers compared them to 874 other survivors, matched for tumour type and other things, who did not.

More than 12 years after conception, recurrence rates were similar in both groups. Abortion had no impact on the rates either.

There was information on breast-feeding for only 64 of the moms, but 25 reported doing so successfully, suggesting it’s possible for some women even after breast surgery.

The results show “fairly convincingly” that women don’t have to worry, said Dr. Richard Schilsky, chief medical officer for the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The group featured the study at its annual conference that ended Tuesday in Chicago.

A big study underway now in the U.S. and other countries is taking this research one step further, testing whether it’s safe for breast cancer survivors who want to get pregnant to temporarily suspend taking the hormone-blocking drugs like tamoxifen usually recommended for five years after initial treatment.

If they wait until all five years are past, they might be too old to have a baby, said Dr. Ann Partridge, who specializes in treating young women with breast cancer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. She is helping enrol patients in the study, called POSITIVE.

Participants must have used the hormone blockers for at least 18 months before stopping, and can suspend treatment for up to two years to enable pregnancy, delivery and breast-feeding.

Sarah Murray of Bridgeport, Connecticut, is the first U.S. woman in the study to have had a baby. She was only 29 and planning her wedding when her breast cancer was found in 2013.

“We had just set the date when I got diagnosed, the same week. So obviously, children was on our minds,” she said.

Worries about triggering a recurrence if she got pregnant “did weigh on me quite a bit,” she said, but “I didn’t want the fear to have power over a decision that would bring so much joy.”

Her son, Owen, was born in December.

Just Posted

Unemployment rate and EI beneficiaries down in Central Alberta

The unemployment rate for Red Deer region and the number of people… Continue reading

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Women’s marches underway in Canadian cities, a year after Trump inauguration

Women are gathering in dozens of communities across the country today to… Continue reading

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month