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Breast Cancer Health Center

Pregnancy Does Not Boost Breast Cancer Recurrence

Study Counters Concerns That Pregnancy Increases Odds of Cancer Returning
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Study Limitations

A drawback of the study is that the researchers looked back at the records of the women rather than following them over time, Devlin says.

"This means there are various biases. For example, it could be that women who didn't get pregnant were sicker and therefore at greater risk of recurrence," he says.

That said, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to do a more robust study in which women are followed over time, Devlin says. "You can't predict who will get pregnant and who won't," he says.

Devlin says that at his institution, "we do not advise women not to become pregnant after radiation treatment."

"But many still have fears due to the hormones," he says. "We can use this research to reassure young women who have had radiation that they should not be worried about getting pregnant."

Radiation therapy does carry risks, Devlin says. That includes temporary skin reactions that are often compared to a bad sunburn in which the treated area becomes red and inflamed and the skin can peel or even blister.

Because some healthy tissue is exposed to radiation during treatment, there is also a low risk of getting a secondary cancer or radiation-induced heart or lung disease, he says.

This study was presented at a medical conference. The findings should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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