Getting a cancer diagnosis while you're pregnant has got to be one of the most painful experiences I can imagine. Weighing treatment options and the risks to one's own child while trying to preserve your own life has got to be excruciating.
Because it's long been believed that chemotherapy is harmful to a fetus, some pregnant women choose to abort their pregnancies, while others choose to put off chemotherapy to protect their unborn children and give up their own lives in the process. No matter the decision, there is much agony and fear involved.
A recently released study will hopefully make the decisions a little easier as it found that chemotherapy during pregnancy is safe for babies.
According to ABC, the new study looked at 400 women in Europe who underwent chemotherapy while pregnant, and it found "little to no evidence of negative health effects" to the babies from the chemo. The found while they weighed less than babies who weren't exposed to chemo , they did not show a higher risk for birth defects, blood disorders, or hair loss.
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It's as shocking as it is amazing in some respects. When something like drinking wine is said to do all sorts of damage (depending on which study you choose), it's incredible that something as powerful as chemotherapy wouldn't do any damage. But what amazing news for the thousands of women who are diagnosed with cancer while they're pregnant.
While this study isn't a guarantee that chemo won't ever harm a child, it does come on the heels of another study from earlier this year with similar findings. Professor Sibylle Loibl, of the German Breast Group which directed the research, said:
If our findings are confirmed by other studies, breast cancer during pregnancy could be treated as it is in non-pregnant women without putting fetal and maternal outcomes at substantially increased risk.
While it's hard to call this good news -- because there's nothing good about having cancer while pregnant -- for those 1 in every 1,000 women who do, it's certainly a bright spot.
Are you surprised to learn that chemotherapy may not cause complications for an unborn child?
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