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A population-based study of rates of childbirth in recurrence-free female young adult survivors of non-gynecologic malignancies

Baxter NN, Sutradhar R, DelGuidice ME, Forbes S, Paszat LF, Wilton AS, Urbach D, Rabeneck L. BMC Cancer. 2013; 13:30.

Background — Fertility is an important issue for long-term survivors of malignancies developing during reproductive years. The researchers designed a population-based study to investigate childbirth in female young adult survivors of non-gynecologic malignancies.

Methods — Women 20–34 years diagnosed with non-gynecologic malignancies in Ontario from 1992–1999 who lived at least 5 years recurrence-free were identified using the Ontario Cancer Registry and age matched to 5 randomly selected cancer-free women. Childbirth was determined through hospital discharge data. Time-to-childbirth was compared between survivors and controls using Cox proportional hazard regression for all subjects and stratified by prior childbirth and disease site.

Results — 3,285 survivors and 15,118 control women had a median of 12 years observation. 1,194 survivors and 6,049 controls experienced childbirth to the end of observation (March 2011). Overall, survivors experienced a longer time to childbirth than controls (HR 0.92, 95% CI 0.87–0.98), however this was limited to survivors with prediagnosis childbirth (HR 0.76, 95% CI 0.66–0.86). Survivors with no prediagnosis childbirth experienced a similar time to childbirth (HR 1.00, 95% CI 0.93–1.08) as control women. Differences between survivors and controls varied by type of malignancy; notably for those with prediagnosis childbirth, survivors of breast cancer (HR 0.45, 95% CI 0.29–0.68) and Hodgkin Disease (HR 0.57, 95% CI 0.36–0.91) had lower rates of postdiagnosis childbirth than controls.

Conclusions — Long-term female young adult survivors of malignancies are less likely than controls to have childbirth after diagnosis; the overall effect is small and is influenced by prediagnosis childbirth and malignancy type.

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Keywords: Cancer Pregnancy