Many mothers affected by cancer in pregnancy have to debate whether to save their life or that of their baby, a very painful situation. And it is that when the cancer appears suddenly in the middle of a pregnancy, the doctors advised the couple to provoke a premature birth to be able to start the treatment of the mother with chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The truth is that premature births have many risks for the baby, and that not starting cancer treatment on time can also pose a serious risk to the mother's health.
A team of researchers has proven that chemotherapy in pregnancy does not harm the fetus, in a study that has investigated the development of 82 fetuses exposed to chemotherapy during their gestation.
Currently, the incidence of cancer in pregnancy is increasing at a rate of 2.5 percent per year and one in every 1,500 pregnancies is complicated by the development of cancer. Faced with this difficult situation, doctors used to make the decision to interrupt the pregnancy by early delivery, but now this new study could facilitate decision-making by determining that chemotherapy and radiotherapy do not interfere with the development of the baby, when administered in the last two trimesters of pregnancy.
Therefore, early deliveries should be considered only for other reasons, since it has been found that the consequences of prenatal exposure to chemotherapy and radiotherapy are not different from those of the general population, during the last months of pregnancy.
The researchers assure that between week 14 and up to three weeks before delivery (never after 35 because of the risk of the woman going into labor spontaneously) is a safe treatment for both.
There are still many studies that advance safe solutions on the drugs used to treat some tumors, such as the taxanes that are prescribed for breast tumors. These issues are important because pregnancy physiologically alters a woman's body and this can affect the way medications behave.
While clinical trials on these issues are under way, collaboration between oncologists, obstetricians, and pediatricians can improve cancer management in pregnancy.
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