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Chemo During Pregnancy Doesn't Seem to Harm Baby
Date:2/10/2012

igators found that the children weren't at higher risk of heart, hearing or nervous system disorders, or general health and growth problems.

As to why the chemotherapy drugs do not reach the fetus and cause harm, Amant said the placenta acts like a filter, keeping most of the medications away from the fetus. Also, doctors avoid chemotherapy in the first trimester, when organs are in the early stages of development and especially vulnerable, Amant added.

The study is one of a series of articles about pregnant women and cancer published online Feb. 10 in The Lancet Oncology.

The other articles published in this issue report that:

  • The current trend in medicine is to allow pregnancies to continue in women diagnosed with cervical or ovarian cancer. However, chemotherapy must not be used in the first eight weeks, and the pregnancies come with risks.
  • Pregnant women with breast cancer can undergo both surgery and chemotherapy, all with the aim of a full-term pregnancy. The mother's disease outcome would not be improved by terminating the pregnancy.
  • Blood cancer can cause complications in pregnant women, such as blood clots, that may lead to advice to terminate the pregnancy at an early stage to protect the health of the mother. But women in later stages of pregnancy may find it feasible to undergo cancer treatment while preserving the pregnancy.

More information

For more about pregnancy and cancer, visit the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

SOURCES: Frederic Amant, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor and head, scientific section of gynecologic oncology, Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven, Belgium; Elyce Cardonick, M.D., department of obstetrics and gynecology, division of maternal-fetal medicine, Cooper University Hospital, Co
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