Breast Cancer survivors can conceive naturally:
Breast cancer is the most widespread cancer among Indian women. According to the experts, pregnancy is possible for women survivors of breast cancer as it doesn’t increase the risk of recurrence and neither does cause any harm to the baby.
Doctors say: “Yes, pregnancy is possible for breast cancer patients. Currently, there is no reason or evidence to believe that becoming pregnant after treatment for breast cancer can cause any risk to the mother or the baby,”
Also, they reveal that it is possible for women to continue with their pregnancy even while diagnosed with breast cancer and take treatments tailored to the stage of their pregnancy concurrently. They can go on to deliver healthy babies.
They also stated” However, for some even “natural pregnancy is possible,” In one case women conceived naturally and delivered a healthy baby five years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The experts explained few cases where in the women were able to get pregnant after getting breast cancer treatment done.
- The lady was at high risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer in 2013. She completed four years of hormone blockade treatment. which blocks the action of Estrogen Receptor (ER) on breast cancer cells. Pregnancy is not advisable whilst on this treatment.
- There was a lady who had her eggs frozen before she started her chemotherapy, but later she conceived naturally and delivered a healthy baby after the treatment stopped.
- In another case, a patient who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27 and treated in 2007 opted for breast conservation, against a full mastectomy – and delivered a healthy baby boy in 2013.
- In yet another case a patient treated for breast cancer in her late 30s conceived and delivered a healthy baby – but 2.5 years after her treatment. She had a history of seven miscarriages.
However, it is not a complete statement for all breast cancer patients. It depends on the age of the patient. And while deciding about pregnancy, it is important to consider and talk to the patient about her age and type of breast cancer.
Breast cancer in India
As per a report from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), India had 14 lakh cancer patients in 2016. And this number is expected to increase.
Breast cancer safety in Pregnancy
According to the American Cancer Society, surgery for breast cancer is usually safe in pregnancy. While chemotherapy seems to be safe for the baby only if given in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, not in the first trimester.
Other breast cancer treatments, like: hormone therapy, targeted therapy, and radiation therapy, are more likely to damage the baby and are usually avoided during pregnancy.
The experts say that the risk could be the need for cesarean section, premature baby and low birth weight baby (vis-a-vis women with no history of breast cancer treatment). There is, by no means, any increase in the chances of birth defects or deformities in the baby or increased risk of cancer in the baby. “There may be difficulty in breastfeeding post-surgery and radiation, but it is still possible with probable lower milk production on the treated side.
They also suggest that women diagnosed with breast cancer need to be made aware of the methods to preserve fertility prior to starting treatment.