There's very good news coming out of Europe, where a new study found that it's much safer to get pregnant after breast cancer than was previously thought. The study was done at Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels, Belgium and looked at 1,200 breast cancer survivors whose cancers were caused by estrogen, which flares up in pregnancy and can trigger a recurrence. Supposedly. Following their cancer treatment, just over 300 women became pregnant, on average two years after their diagnosis. The researchers compared those women to almost 900 people who matched the same kind of cancer but never got pregnant — and the recurrence rates were the same.
Even better, the recurrence rate was, on average, similar to a group of women who got pregnant almost 12 years after their diagnosis. According to the results, the same was true of those who'd had abortions, which contradicts a common myth that abortion can lead to breast cancer. Some of the women — not many — also were able to breastfeed after breast surgery. All of this research proves that women can survive breast cancer and also plan a family.
According to Stat News, about 11 percent of new breast cancer diagnoses are in women under 45, so the results are promising even as women are waiting till later on in life to have children.
It's not just in Europe that breast cancer survivors are having children successfully either; There's a huge study going on right now in the United States called POSITIVE, which helps young women temporarily suspend hormone treatment to have children. (The study only accepts women who have been on hormone blockers for 18 months. They can reportedly suspend treatment for up to two years to get pregnant, deliver their baby, and breastfeed.)
Already, one woman has given birth. Sarah Murray, from Connecticut, was 29 years old when she was diagnosed and planning her wedding. She said of the experience, “We had just set the date when I got diagnosed, the same week. So obviously, having children was on our minds." Now she has a healthy child and Murray's doing just fine, too — disproving the myth all on her own.
Murray was scared of course. She added that the fear of a recurrence if she got pregnant "did weigh" on her a bit. But, she said, "I didn’t want the fear to have power over a decision that would bring so much joy.”
Although there are some more complications with delivery and increased instances of cesarean sections or low birth weight, it is possible to get pregnant after breast cancer without risking another recurrence. And that's good news all around.