Pregnancy helps women endure.
Long associated with a worse outcome, researchers have discovered that women treated for breast cancer while pregnant, in fact, have improved disease-free survival and a trend for improved overall survival compared to nonpregnant females treated for the disease.
"Until now, older registry studies showed that breast cancer patients treated while pregnant had a worse outcome," states Jennifer Litton, assistant professor in the Department of Breast Medical Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston. "However, in the past, these patients weren't always treated consistently with standard-of-care chemotherapy and often delayed their therapy until after delivery."
In 1992, Richard Theriault, professor in the Department of Breast Medical Oncology, opened the first protocol examining a chemotherapeutic regimen for the management of these patients. He later published seminal studies proving that the regimen was safe for both pregnant mother and unborn child; it since has been adopted as the standard of care.
For the study, Litton and her colleagues identified women treated for breast cancer while pregnant. Using the institution's tumor registry and database, the cases were compared to nonpregnant breast cancer patients. Cases and controls all were treated between 1989-2008, and were matched based on stage, age, and year of diagnosis. The researchers found a statistically significant five-year disease-free survival of 73.9% in pregnant women, compared to 55.7% in the nonpregnant patients.
"From this data set and our study, we are not sure why our pregnant breast cancer patients had better outcomes than those who were not," admits Litton. "Is there something biological in the milieu of pregnancy that changes the response to chemotherapy, or were these patients treated more aggressively?."
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|Title Annotation:||Breast Cancer Survival|
|Publication:||USA Today (Magazine)|
|Article Type:||Brief article|
|Date:||Feb 1, 2013|
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