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Onkologie. 2012;35(3):128-32. doi: 10.1159/000336830. Epub 2012 Feb 21.

Pregnancy after successful cancer treatment: what needs to be considered?

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  • 1University Women's Hospital, Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany.


Over the last decade, advances in oncology led to improved treatment results and increasing numbers of long-term cancer survivors. Fulfilling the desire to have children is important for many patients after cancer treatment. Consequently, oncologists, gynecologists and obstetricians are seeing more patients who wish to conceive after treatment. The necessary prerequisites that should be considered when supporting a planned pregnancy after cancer treatment are discussed in this article. The possible consequences of chemotherapy and radiotherapy on the course of pregnancy and the health of the offspring, as well as the interactions between cancer and pregnancy, are reviewed with the focus on childhood cancer, malignant lymphomas, and breast cancer. Despite chemo- or radiotherapy, neither the teratogenic risk nor the risk of adventitious cancers appears to be increased for the offspring of cancer survivors. However, there is a slightly higher risk of miscarriage after chemotherapy. In case of radiation to the uterus, there is a higher risk of premature birth, intrauterine growth retardation, and increased perinatal mortality. The effect is more pronounced after prepubertal radiation than for postpubertal radiation. The former cancer patient's desire to conceive can nevertheless be supported, given that pregnancy and birth are closely monitored.

Copyright © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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