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Pregnancy and Chemo a Risky Combo

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"Perhaps we need to do further checks to make sure our sense of complacency is well justified," says Gosden, of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal.

The researchers also warn against becoming pregnant too quickly after being treated for cancer. In the animal studies, the risk for birth defects decreased as the time since chemotherapy increased.

Women with a diagnosis of cancer who are of childbearing age, those who are expecting to receive chemotherapy for cancer, and those who will be receiving cyclophosphamide for other conditions like lupus should talk with their doctors and/or with an expert in genetics or maternal-fetal medicine. If they do become pregnant, they also should inform their child's pediatrician that they received chemotherapy in the past.

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