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Pregnant women can receive breast cancer chemotherapy without endangering health of their babies
Date:3/25/2010

Barcelona, Spain: Women who discover they have breast cancer while they are pregnant can be treated with chemotherapy without endangering the health of their unborn baby, according to research to be presented at the seventh European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC7) in Barcelona today (Friday).

Dr Sibylle Loibl, Assistant Professor in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Frankfurt, Germany, and a member of the German Breast Group, will tell the conference that pregnant breast cancer patients can be treated as close as possible to standard recommendations because chemotherapy delivered while babies were in the womb did not appear to cause the babies significant problems at or after birth.

"Until now, the evidence upon which we based our decisions about how to treat pregnant women with breast cancer has been largely limited to case studies and retrospective investigations. For this reason doctors have tended to be cautious in their approach to treatment because of fears about the effect it might have on the foetus, even though it meant that women did not necessarily receive the best treatment for their cancer," said Dr Loibl. "Therefore, the German Breast Group set up a registry to collect data both retrospectively and prospectively from patients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer during pregnancy. It is the only international registry to focus on the outcomes of both the mother and the baby."

The researchers entered details of 235 patients prospectively (119) and retrospectively (116) to the registry between April 2003 and October 2009. The ages of the women ranged between 23 and 46 with an average (median) age of 33. Breast cancer was diagnosed, on average, at 23 weeks into the pregnancy. Not all the data are complete yet, but out of 151 women, 91 received an average of two cycles of chemotherapy while they were pregnant.

The average gestational age of the babies at the time of delivery was 36 weeks, ranging
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
Source:Eurekalert

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