discoveries magazine

Pregnancy After Cancer

Eva Vázquez

Young women with breast cancer are typically cautioned against having children for fear that elevated estrogen levels from pregnancy might increase the risk of cancer returning or spreading. Cedars-Sinai investigator Philomena McAndrew, MD, is challenging that conventional wisdom.

As a scientist in the international POSITIVE clinical trial, McAndrew is studying whether it’s safe for women who have already been treated for early breast cancer to temporarily pause their antiestrogen maintenance therapy to try to become pregnant. The trial specifically focuses on women who have had hormone-receptor-positive tumors, meaning the cancer cells grow in response to estrogen or progesterone.

“Results of studies show that these patients don’t have a higher chance of their cancer spreading in comparison to women who have never become pregnant after their breast cancer,” McAndrew says. She and her colleagues hope to demonstrate, once and for all, that “young women who have developed breast cancer don’t have to be denied the hope of having a family or more children.”

Read Research Aims to Help Cancer Patients Get Pregnant for more about the POSITIVE trial.