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Birth outcome in women with breast cancer, cutaneous malignant melanoma, or Hodgkin's disease: a review

Authors Langagergaard

Published 23 December 2010 Volume 2011:3(1) Pages 7—19


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Vivian Langagergaard
Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark

Background: Data on birth outcome in women diagnosed with cancer before, during, or shortly after pregnancy are very sparse. The purpose of this review was to summarize the existing epidemiologic evidence of the adverse effect of breast cancer, cutaneous malignant melanoma, and Hodgkin's disease on birth outcome.
Methods: The MEDLINE database was used to review the literature systematically. Studies that examined the following outcomes were included: preterm birth, low birth weight, low birth weight at term, stillbirths, congenital abnormalities, male proportion of newborns, and mean birth weight. Studies were grouped according to whether the woman had been diagnosed with the specific cancer before, during, or shortly after pregnancy.
Results: Few data exist on birth outcome in women with breast cancer, melanoma, or Hodgkin's disease. The overall results from the limited number of studies, which included a comparison group for birth outcome, were reassuring. However, for women diagnosed with breast cancer before pregnancy, the only 2 studies that included comparison groups for birth outcome had conflicting results regarding the risk of preterm birth and congenital abnormalities. Furthermore, a recent cohort study of birth outcome in women who were diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease before pregnancy indicated a slightly increased risk of congenital abnormalities among the newborns.
Conclusion: Overall, the existing studies offer reassuring results concerning the risks of adverse birth outcome for women diagnosed with breast cancer, melanoma, or Hodgkin's disease before, during or shortly after pregnancy. A limitation of most studies was the imprecise risk estimates caused by the small number of adverse birth outcomes and the lack of results stratified by treatment. Therefore, international collaboration is necessary in the future, to obtain more precise risk estimates for adverse birth outcomes, and to allow stratified analyses according to, for example, treatment.

Keywords: epidemiology, breast cancer, melanoma, Hodgkin's disease, birth outcome

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