New study shows breast cancer survivors are safe having babies

Young women diagnosed with some types of breast cancer had traditionally had to make a choice.

The hormone suppression therapy used to fight cancer prevented pregnancy. Common wisdom said the women had to risk cancer to have children. Or, they could give up on a family and increase their cancer survival odds.

New research suggests this isn’t true.

“There is actually a fair bit of data that women who go on to have a baby do just as well as women who don’t go on to have a baby after breast cancer,” said Dr. Ann Partridge, medical oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute:

Pregnancy causes a hormone spike, which many believed increased risks of cancer recurrence, but this doesn’t seem to be the case.

Another factor keeping cancer survivors from starting families has been age. Women are starting families later and being diagnosed earlier. Hormone therapy usually lasts five years. Often these are prime childbearing years.

Some women are experimenting with shorter therapy cycles to allow them to have a child.

“It doesn’t mean these women aren’t at risk, and it’s a really tough decision,” said Partridge.

Still, it gives women options they never had before.

For women dreaming of children the reward might outweigh the risk. And now it seems the risk is smaller than anyone thought.

 
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