WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Pregnant women treated for breast cancer are more likely to survive than patients of the same age not pregnant when cancer was diagnosed, a U.S. study found.
Five years after their diagnosis almost 74 of the women diagnosed with breast cancer during pregnancy were still alive, while of those who were not pregnant when they got treatment, 55.75 percent survived to the five-year mark, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
The study to be presented at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Washington is likely to help lay to rest the lingering belief that pregnancy is a uniquely dangerous time for a woman to discover breast cancer.
Pregnant women diagnosed with breast cancer were long urged to terminate a pregnancy or to wait until giving birth to begin aggressive treatment.
The report supports a widespread shift in medical practice that says a pregnant breast cancer patient can begin chemotherapy as soon as her first trimester is over and resume treatment with radiation, follow-on chemotherapy or surgery after the baby's birth.
The study findings are important, researchers say, since more women are choosing to start or complete families later in life, thus increasing the chances that breast cancer and pregnancy could coincide.