Women treated for breast cancer while pregnant have improved disease-free survival and a trend for improved overall survival compared to non-pregnant women treated for the disease, a new study has said.
Jennifer Litton, M.D., assistant professor in UT MD Anderson's Department of Breast Medical Oncology, presented the findings in a poster discussion session at the 2010 Breast Cancer Symposium.
For the single institution, case-controlled study, Litton and her colleagues identified 75 women treated for breast cancer while pregnant.
Using the institution's tumor registry and Department of Breast Medical Oncology database, the cases were compared to 150 non-pregnant breast cancer patients.
Cases and controls were all treated at MD Anderson 1989 -2008, and were matched based on stage, age and year of diagnosis.
All received the standard chemotherapy regimen - 5-fluorouracil, doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide (FAC); pregnant patients started therapy after completing their first trimester.
Both groups received additional therapies as clinically indicated, with the pregnant women receiving those treatments after giving birth. The median follow-up was 4.16 years.
The researchers found a statistically significant five-year disease-free survival of 73.94 percent in pregnant women, compared to 55.75 percent in the non-pregnant patients.
Although not statistically significant, overall survival was also higher in the cases than the controls: 77.42 percent and 71.86 percent, respectively.
"From this data set and our study, we are not sure why our pregnant breast cancer patients had better outcomes than those who were not," said Litton.
The reasons for the disease-free and overall survival discrepancy are still unknown, said Litton, and understanding their findings s of research priority.