Risk of recurrence for pregnant survivors?

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Question from Lm: Can women with estrogen, progesterone, and HER2-positive breast cancer, and who’ve been treated with mastectomy/chemotherapy/Herceptin (chemical name: trastuzumab) and hormone therapy, go on to have safe pregnancies without inducing a recurrence in the cancer?
Answers - Leslie R. Schover, Ph.D. It's always nice to have more research, but from the big studies that have been done so far, if a woman is able to get pregnant after successful breast cancer treatment, her risk of a recurrence or dying from breast cancer is no greater than that of a similar woman who did not get pregnant. In fact, there is what you call the “healthy mother effect.” It seems that women who do get pregnant after breast cancer may actually have better survival than their peers. Maybe this is because the women who have the best chance of a healthy future are the ones who try to get pregnant.
Kutluk Oktay, M.D. Even though some studies did control for things like health standards to make sure that it is not the healthier woman attempting pregnancy, therefore if they’re pregnant the likelihood of recurrence is lower. So it is not necessarily clear that if some women do better if they get pregnant after breast cancer treatment has been completed, that this is merely due to the fact that they were healthier to begin with. Nevertheless, it will be impossible to perform an ideal study, as we cannot randomly ask women to get pregnant or not to get pregnant. Therefore, the best evidence is what we have, which is unlikely to be improved by further studies.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Fertility and Pregnancy featured Kutluk Oktay, M.D. and Leslie Schover, Ph.D. answering your questions about breast cancer treatments that can affect your fertility, options for preserving your fertility, being treated for breast cancer while pregnant, and more.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in September 2008.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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