Pregnancy won’t prompt breast cancer return, suggests study

Women who’ve overcome commonest form of breast cancer shouldn’t be put off pregnancy, experts say

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Women who’ve had breast cancer treatment may be able to get pregnant without fear of it triggering the disease to return, experts have said for the first time, the Guardian reports.

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Pregnancy can increase levels of oestrogen, which doctors thought could cause the commonest form of breast cancer, known as oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer, to return. This is due to the female sex hormone triggering certain proteins within cancer cells. Cancer specialists currently advise women who’ve had the disease to wait two years before attempting to get pregnant.

Now a new study, presented at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Vienna, suggests there’s no difference in how long women who become pregnancy and those who don’t go without the disease returning. Dr Rachel Greig, senior policy officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said, “It shows that most women who become pregnant after breast cancer are not at increased risk of developing the disease again.”

However, Professor David Cameron of Edinburgh University said, “Whilst an important piece of research, it cannot yet be taken as definitive proof that there is no adverse effect of a subsequent pregnancy.”

Grete Brauten-Smith, clinical nurse specialist for younger women at Breast Cancer Care, echoed David’s thoughts. “It should be interpreted with a degree of caution. The findings do however reinforce the importance of discussing fertility preservation prior to treatment for beast cancer,” Grete explained.

The message from the Department of Health is that the study is welcome and will give confidence to women, but that they should always consult their doctor for advice.

The new study, led by Dr Hatem Azim Jr, a medical oncologist at the Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels, looked at 333 women (with both positive and negative oestrogen receptor status) who had gone on to fall pregnant after breast cancer. In addition, the study considered 874 women with the disease who didn’t conceive.

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