Study Looks at Pregnancy among Breast Cancer Survivors

Roughly 11 percent of new breast cancers diagnosed in the U.S. are in women in their childbearing years. A study looks at a number of young women diagnosed with breast cancer and their interest in future pregnancy.

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CLEVELAND – About 11 percent of new breast cancers diagnosed in the U.S. are in women in their childbearing years.

One study looked at a number of young women diagnosed with breast cancer and their interest in future pregnancy.

Researchers surveyed a group of more than 900 young women with early stage breast cancer.

The study found that about 35 percent of these women had interest in becoming pregnant in the future.

And a substantial number of these women did became pregnant within five years following their diagnosis.

Halle Moore, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic did not take part in the study, but said the results were telling.

“Somewhere between a quarter and a third of patients had some interest in future fertility,” said Dr. Moore.  “A minority of those patients actually reported attempting pregnancy, although among individuals attempting pregnancy there was a fairly high pregnancy rate.” 

Dr. Moore said whether it’s safe for a woman to attempt pregnancy after surviving breast cancer is really dependent upon the individual – her age, what type of breast cancer was treated and how it was treated.

She said some women who need to receive long-term anti-estrogen treatment need to be especially careful, as such treatments are not okay to continue during pregnancy.

Dr. Moore said this research highlights the importance of doctors talking with younger breast cancer patients about their hopes for pregnancy in the future, because these women may have options for preserving their fertility before cancer treatments begin.

“It’s really important that we recognize that a substantial number of young women, with a new cancer diagnosis, are going to be interested in having children in the future,” said Dr. Moore. “The options that we have to offer to improve that possibility are going to be most successful if done prior to cancer treatment.”

She said that it’s also important to recognize the importance of contraception during the treatment phase.

Some women will stop their periods while receiving anti-estrogen treatments and therefore assume that they cannot get pregnant, however, Dr. Moore said that the possibility of pregnancy still exists. 

Dr. Moore believes conversations about future pregnancy are key for many women because it’s important not only to cure these women of their cancers, but also to allow them to live as normal of a life as they can afterwards.

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