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Recent medical studies suggest that pregnant women can be treated almost the same as other cancer patients are, with minimal risk to the fetus. While the odds of facing such circumstances are slim — about 1 in 1,000 pregnant women are affected — studies show new data that is seemingly positive (at least initially). Doctors have long worried about how to balance treating a pregnant woman with cancer and the need to protect her fetus from the effects of toxic cancer drugs and radiation treatments, and whether it is safe to continue a pregnancy in certain situations.
Here are the highlights of the most recent findings:
–A Belgian-led study of 70 children in Europe exposed to chemotherapy while they were in the womb found they developed just as well as other children, according to tests on their hearts, IQ and general health. They were assessed at birth, 18 months, and every few years until age 18.
–Chemotherapy after the first trimester is possible, using extra ultrasounds to ensure the baby is developing properly. Radiation therapy is best done in the first two trimesters, when the baby is small enough to be covered with a lead blanket, according to a review of previous studies, led by Belgian researchers.
–Ending the pregnancy doesn’t improve chances for the mother, the same study found.
–The type of cancer seems to matter: An Israeli analysis of past research suggested pregnant women with blood cancers run a higher risk of losing the fetus when chemotherapy can’t be delayed.
For more, visit CBS News.