Pregnancy, lactation, and cancer outcomes

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Being diagnosed with cancer during pregnancy or while breastfeeding is not generally associated with increased risk of cancer-related death, researchers in Norway have found. The exceptions are cancers of the breast and ovary diagnosed during lactation. Survival was investigated among women in Norway aged 16 to 49 years diagnosed with cancer between 1967 and 2002. A comparison was made between women who were pregnant or breastfeeding when diagnosed with the most common cancers in this age group and those who were not. Results for all cancers combined showed no effect of being diagnosed with cancer during pregnancy or lactation. However, women who were diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer during lactation had an increased risk of cause-specific death (HR 1.95 and 2.23, respectively).

Stensheim H, Moller B, van Dijk T, Fossa SD. J Clin Oncol 2009;27:45-51

Originally published in the March 2009 edition of MIMS Oncology & Palliative Care.

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