According to research presented at the European Breast Cancer conference held in Barcelona, Spain from March 24 to 27, women who become pregnant after surviving breast cancer may actually improve their survival odds, but women with a postpartum diagnosis of breast cancer have increased mortality in comparison to other women diagnosed with the disease.

In a study led by Angela Ives of the University of Western Australia in Crawley and colleagues, a comparison of results in women diagnosed with gestational breast cancer during pregnancy or postpartum with women who were not pregnant at diagnosis were done.

The result showed a 48 per cent increase in mortality risk in women diagnosed with gestational breast cancer postpartum than women with non-gestational breast cancer. There was 3 per cent increased risk in women diagnosed during pregnancy.

In another study conducted by Hatem A. Azim Jr., M.D., of the Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels, Belgium and colleagues, 14 trials comparing women with breast cancer histories who become pregnant and those who did not were analyzed.

The breast cancer survivors who got pregnant were found to have significantly better survival rate than those who did not become pregnant.

A third study, which was conducted by Sibylle Loibl, M.D., of the University of Frankfurt, Germany and colleagues compared outcomes in women who had chemotherapy prior to discovering their pregnancy and pregnant women without the treatment.

Infants exposed in utero to chemotherapy treatment were found to have slightly lower birth weights than babies not exposed. Other abnormalities were in the usual ranges.

Loibl and colleagues conclude, Fetal outcome in babies who received intrauterine chemotherapy was not significantly different from those who did not. Pregnant breast cancer patients can be treated as close as possible to standard recommendations in specialized multidisciplinary teams.