Treatment of pregnant breast cancer patients shouldn't be delayed

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Washington, Dec 13 (ANI): Lead researcher of the German Breast Group has suggested that treatment of breast cancer should not be delayed just because the women is pregnant.

Based on study results detailing the effects of different treatment options on the infant, the researcher gave this suggestion.

"At the time we started the study in 2003, there was hardly any information on breast cancer therapy during pregnancy, but we felt there was a medical need for it," Sibylle Loibl, Dr. med, German Breast Group said.

Although the incidence of pregnancy among breast cancer patients is small (about 2 to 3 percent), women are delaying childbirth until later in age, which may increase the instances of cancer cases among pregnant women, according to Loibl.

The researchers collected the data from women diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant to see how the infants fared.

From April 2003 until June 2010, they collected data from 313 women, aged 23 to 47 years old. The women had various subtypes of breast cancer, and the cancer was in various stages when diagnosed. All of the women were pregnant when they were diagnosed with cancer: 23 percent were in the first trimester, 42 percent were in the second and 36 percent were in the third trimester. Some women received various treatment regimens while the rest received chemotherapy.

Two of the infants died shortly after birth and 29 did not continue the pregnancy. Premature deliveries were more common among women who did not receive chemotherapy than among women who did receive chemotherapy. In addition, the infants of the women who received chemotherapy tended to weigh a little more than those who did not receive chemotherapy.

Infants from both groups experienced congenital problems, most of which were related to premature birth.

"We were surprised about the number of congenital malformations," Loibl said.

"It is about 1 to 3 percent in the general population, but was higher in this cohort."

Based on these results Loibl said she would advise her pregnant cancer patients to "continue the pregnancy and start with a treatment as closely as possible to standard recommendations for nonpregnant women."

Loibl presented this data at the 33rd Annual CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held Dec. 8-12, 2010. (ANI)

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