Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Survivors of childhood cancer run particular risks when pregnant and should be closely monitored, the 25th annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology heard today (Wednesday 1 July). Dr. Sharon Lie Fong, of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Erasmus MC University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, said that, although such women may have conceived spontaneously and considered themselves to be perfectly healthy, their deliveries should always take place in a hospital.
Dr. Lie Fong and colleagues studied data on the pregnancies of 40 women who had been treated for cancer during their childhood, the majority of them for leukaemia, but also for solid tumours. Six had had radiation treatment directly to the abdomen. The data were compared with those from a control group of more than 9,000 women who had not had cancer treatment. All data were obtained from The Netherlands Perinatal Register, a nationwide database of pregnancy outcomes. Data were matched for age at pregnancy, year and month of delivery, and the number of times the woman had given birth.
"This is the first such study on pregnancy outcome in childhood cancer survivors as compared with normal, healthy women," said Dr. Lie Fong. "Although we found no differences between most of the survivors and the control group, the women treated with abdominal radiotherapy delivered more prematurely. These women also had more postpartum haemorrhages the loss of more than one litre of blood after delivery."
The team did not investigate overall fertility and miscarriage rates, but they believe that it is possible that the fertility of all the cancer survivors may be compromised. "We know that radiotherapy and some chemotherapy treatments are toxic to the ovarian follicles," said Dr. Lie Fong, "and, in an earlier study, we had already found that ovarian reserve is smaller in adult survivors of childhood cancer tha
|Contact: Mary Rice|
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology