New studies show that giving birth after a breast cancer diagnosis does not negatively affect the woman’s chances for surviving the illness longterm. Conversely, the report, administered by the Medical Research Council Center for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, also found that women who had never been pregnant before do not face any worse odds of overcoming breast cancer than those who have.
The study stemmed from questions about elevated estrogen in the body during pregnancy. When a woman goes through pregnancy, the amounts of estrogen and progesterone hormones in her body increase.
Many cancer researchers believe increases in estrogen in the female body can indicate higher likelihoods for the disease. As a result, rumors began to spread that the flood of estrogen from pregnancy could put a cancer survivor at higher risk for relapse.
“This analysis shows that having a baby after breast cancer doesn’t have a negative impact on survival,” said Richard Anderson, the professor who led the study. “It provides reassurance for the growing number of women who want to start or complete their families after treatment.”
Breast cancer is the world’s most prevalent form of cancer, so the number of women starting families after a diagnosis is high, as well
Researchers analyzed patient details from the Scottish Cancer Registry and national maternity databases for the study. They used data from just over 5,100 women with breast cancer dating back to 1981. All of the women were younger than 40-years-old at the time of their diagnosis, as well.
The study is timely because the average age that women choose to have children is steadily increasing across the modern world. Therefore, more first-time mothers will have had breast cancer prior to starting a family than ever before.
Breast cancer is also the world’s most prevalent type of cancer — one in seven women in Britain will develop the disease over the course of their lifetime. Cancer researchers estimate that a woman is diagnosed with the type of cancer every ten minutes worldwide.
Breast Cancer Now, an advocacy and prevention group, says women should examine their breasts for cancer at least every six weeks. As with all forms of cancer, getting an early diagnosis can significantly help patients from dying from the illness.