London: Most women can have a baby after being diagnosed with breast cancer, according to researchers who claim it`s "safe" and increases lifespan.
There were concerns earlier that pregnancy could boost levels of female sex hormone oestrogen in the body and cause breast cancer, the most common form of the disease to return. But, now a new study claims that it is safe for most women to get pregnant even within the first two years after diagnosis.
Furthermore, the study revealed that patients who become pregnant appear to survive longer than those who don`t, although independent experts claimed that further research is needed in this area, the `Daily Mail` reported.
In their study, the researchers, led by Dr Hatem Azim, a medical oncologist at Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels, and colleagues, enrolled 333 women, with an average age of 34, but ranging from 21 to 48 years old, whose oestrogen receptor status (positive or negative) and disease outcome were known.
They had become pregnant at any time following diagnosis and were in remission at the time they conceived.
The group was matched with 874 similar breast cancer patients who didn`t become pregnant and who acted as controls. Over a period of almost five years following pregnancy, 30 percent of all women in the study saw their disease come back.
Dr Azim said: "Out of all the women, 57 per cent had ER+ disease, but the study showed there was no difference in the length of time women with either ER+ or ER negative (ER-) disease survived without their disease recurring compared with those who did not become pregnant."
Neither breastfeeding nor abortion or miscarriage appeared to have an effect on the women`s outcome.
Dr Azim added: "Frequently when women with history of breast cancer become pregnant, some physicians advise them to have an abortion for fear that completing the pregnancy could have a detrimental effect on the outcome of their disease.
"We found that this was not true and the outcome was similar, irrespective of whether the pregnancy was completed or not."
However, an expert, Prof David Cameron at the University of Edinburgh said: "It is important to acknowledge that there are limitations in this kind of case control study, and so whilst an important piece of research, it cannot yet be taken as definitive proof."
Dr Rachel Greig, senior policy officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, added: "This study may offer reassurance to breast cancer patients who want to have a baby after finishing their treatment. However, we would always encourage women wishing to have a baby after breast cancer to discuss this with their doctor."