Friday January 24, 2020

Breast Cancer Survivors Can Safely enter Motherhood: Experts

However, it would be advisable to wait for two years post-treatment to check for an early recurrence.

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Pregnancy, Breast Cancer
High blood pressure, which had long been defined as a top reading of at least 140 or a bottom one of 90, dropped to 130 over 80 under guidelines adopted in 2017.

Breast cancer, the most prevalent cancer among Indian women, cannot deter motherhood, if intervention takes place at the right moment, say health experts. According to them, pregnancy is possible for women survivors of breast cancer — it does not increase risk of recurrence and neither does it cause any harm to the baby.

“Yes, pregnancy is possible for breast cancer patients. Currently there is no reason or evidence to believe that becoming pregnant after treatment for breast cancer can cause any risk to the mother or the baby,” Upasna Saxena, Consultant (Radiation Oncology), at Mumbai’s HCG Cancer Centre, told IANS.

“It is possible for women to continue with their pregnancy even while diagnosed with breast cancer and take treatments tailored to the stage of their pregnancy concurrently. They can go on to deliver healthy babies,” added Kanchan Kaur, Associate Director, Cancer Institute at Medanta in Gurugram.

Breast Cancer
Chemists develop unique disease-fighting ‘nano-grenades’. VOA

However, for some even “natural pregnancy is possible,” Kaur stated.

In a striking case from the hospital, Paula, 33, from Rwanda, conceived naturally and delivered a healthy baby five years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, the doctor said.

Paula was at high risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer in 2013. She completed four years of hormone blockade treatment, which blocks the action of Estrogen Receptor (ER) on breast cancer cells. Pregnancy is not advisable whilst on this treatment.

Although she had her eggs frozen before she started her chemotherapy, she conceived naturally and delivered a healthy baby after the treatment stopped.

In another case from HCG, a patient who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27 and treated in 2007 opted for breast conservation, against a full masectomy — and delivered a healthy baby boy in 2013.

Pregnancy, air pollution, Breast Cancer
Other breast cancer treatments, such as hormone therapy, targeted therapy and radiation therapy, are more likely to harm the baby and are usually shunned during pregnancy. Flickr

“Previously, there were concerns over increased risk of cancer recurrence in women who contemplate pregnancy, but it’s good news that studies show no such higher risk in women who conceive as compared to women who do not conceive,” Saxena said.

In yet another case, also from HCG, a patient treated for breast cancer in her late 30s conceived and delivered a healthy baby — but 2.5 years after her treatment. She had a history of seven miscarriages.

“However, it is not a blanket statement for all breast cancer patients. It depends on the age of the patient. And while deciding about pregnancy, it is important to consider and talk to the patient about her age, family size and type of breast cancer (aggressiveness and risk of recurrence),” Saxena noted.

According to a report from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), India had 14 lakh cancer patients in 2016 and this number is expected to increase.

“Breast cancer is currently the most common cancer among Indian women, both in terms of incidence as well as mortality, with proportional prevalence in younger age-groups being higher than the global average.”

Pregnancy, Breast Cancer
A nurse holds the hand of a premature baby, who was born at five months of pregnancy, at a hospital in Medellin, Colombia. VOA

“The age standardised rate is approximately 25.8 per one lakh women and is expected to rise to 35 per one lakh women in 2026,” the report stated.

Pregnancy after breast cancer does not increase a woman’s risk of a relapse.

According to the American Cancer Society, surgery for breast cancer is generally safe in pregnancy while chemotherapy seems to be safe for the baby only if given in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, not in the first trimester.

Other breast cancer treatments, such as hormone therapy, targeted therapy and radiation therapy, are more likely to harm the baby and are usually shunned during pregnancy.

“The risk could be the need for caesarean section, premature baby and low birth weight baby (vis-a-vis women with no history of breast cancer treatment),” Saxena said.

“There is, by no means, any increase in the chances of birth defects or deformities in the baby or increased risk of cancer in the baby (unless it is a cancer due to genetic mutation which can be transmitted to the baby).

Breast Cancer
Breast cancer cell, Wikimedia Commons

“There may be difficulty in breast-feeding post surgery and radiation, but it is still possible with probable lower milk production on the treated side,” Saxena explained.

However, it would be advisable to wait for two years post-treatment to check for an early recurrence.

Also Read: Managing Weight During Pregnancy May Affect Child’s Bone Health

Kaur suggested that young women diagnosed with breast cancer need to be made aware about the methods to preserve fertility prior to starting treatment.

“Their ova (eggs) can be harvested (as is done for patients undergoing IVF) and preserved for future implantation either in the treated patient or a surrogate,” she explained. (IANS)

Next Story

Here’s How Belly Fat Increases the Risk of Heart Attack

Belly fat may lead to multiple heart attacks

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Heart Attack
Heart attack survivors who carry excess fat around their waist are at increased risk of another heart attack. Pixabay

Heart patients, please take note, here’s a new health news. Researchers have found that heart attack survivors who carry excess fat around their waist are at increased risk of another heart attack.

“Abdominal obesity not only increases your risk for a first heart attack or stroke, but also the risk for recurrent events after the first misfortune,” said study author Hanieh Mohammadi from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

Prior studies have shown that abdominal obesity is an important risk factor for having a first heart attack. But until now, the association between abdominal obesity and the risk of a subsequent heart attack or stroke was unknown.

The research, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, followed more than 22,000 patients after their first heart attack and investigated the relation between abdominal obesity (measured by waist circumference) and the risk for recurrent cardiovascular disease events. The researchers specifically looked at events caused by clogged arteries, such as fatal and non-fatal heart attack and stroke.

Heart Attack
Abdominal obesity not only increases your risk for a first heart attack or stroke, but also the risk for recurrent events after the first misfortune. Pixabay

Patients were recruited from the nationwide SWEDEHEART registry and followed for a median of 3.8 years. Most patients — 78 per cent of men and 90 per cent of women — had abdominal obesity (waist circumference 94 cm or above for men and 80 cm or above for women).

Increasing abdominal obesity was independently associated with fatal and non-fatal heart attacks and strokes, regardless of other risk factors (such as smoking, diabetes, hypertension, blood pressure, blood lipids and body mass index [BMI]) and secondary prevention treatments. According to the researchers, waist circumference was a more important marker of recurrent events than overall obesity.

The reason abdominal obesity is very common in patients with a first heart attack is that it is closely linked with conditions that accelerate the clogging of arteries through atherosclerosi, the researchers said. These conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar and insulin resistance (diabetes) as well as raised blood lipid levels.

“Our results, however, suggest that there may be other negative mechanisms associated with abdominal obesity that are independent of these risk factors and remain unrecognised,” Mohammadi said.

“In our study, patients with increasing levels of abdominal obesity still had a raised risk for recurrent events despite being on therapies that lower traditional risk factors connected with abdominal obesity such as anti-hypertensives, diabetes medication and lipid lowering drugs,” she added.

Also Read- New Rule in USA to Allow Passengers to Bring Pet Animals on Flight

According to the study, the relationship between waist circumference and recurrent events was stronger and more linear in men.

“There were three times as many men in the study compared to women, contributing to less statistical power in the female group. Therefore, more studies are needed before definite conclusions can be drawn according to gender,” Mohammadi noted. (IANS)