Findings from a retrospective study of 1,200 women provide reassurance to breast cancer survivors who are contemplating pregnancy. In the study, women who became pregnant after an early breast cancer diagnosis, including those with estrogen receptor (ER)-positive tumors, did not have a higher chance of cancer recurrence and death than those who did not become pregnant.

The study will be featured in a press briefing today and presented at the 2017 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women of reproductive age. Taking into account current trends toward delaying childbearing, breast cancer in young women may occur before the completion of reproductive plans. Although half of young women with newly diagnosed breast cancer report interest in having children, less than 10% become pregnant after treatment.1 In fact, of all cancer survivors, breast cancer survivors are the least likely to have a baby after diagnosis.

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Dr. Stegall’s Comments: This study answered one of our main questions about premenopausal women and breast cancer: does future pregnancy increase the risk of cancer? recurrence? Results of this study suggest that it does not. However, there remain several key issues with premenopausal breast cancer. How do treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation affect fertility? And how significantly do those treatments increase the risk of miscarriage and birth defects? The recommendation in premenopausal women who think they want to have more children is to freeze their eggs prior to initiating treatment.