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By Terry Vanderheyden

CAMDEN, N.J., April 13, 2006 ( – Chemotherapy administered to women for cancer detected during pregnancy may be safe for the unborn child if administered after the first trimester, doctors revealed last month.

Although rare – only 1 in 1,000 women develop cancer in pregnancy – until now, many physicians had recommended abortion because it was felt that chemotherapy would irreversibly damage the unborn child. New evidence reveals it may be safe as long as the treatment is given after the baby has developed beyond the first trimester. Until recently, doctors also felt that the stress of carrying a child would reduce a woman’s child of surviving the cancer.

Dr. Elyce Cardonick, a maternal-fetal specialist working at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, N.J., began collecting information from women treated with chemo during pregnancy for various types of cancer beginning in 1996.

“No physician wanted to be the first person to treat a (pregnant) patient with cancer,” she explained, according to a Woman’s Cancer Network report. “No one person had a lot of experience because it was rare.” She and other doctors practicing similarly have found that babies fare well if chemotherapy is begun after the first trimester.

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