Study Finds Abortion Not Needed When Pregnant Women Face Cancer Treatment

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 9, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Study Finds Abortion Not Needed When Pregnant Women Face Cancer Treatment

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 9
, 2009

Houston, TX ( — A new study finds that pregnancy does not increase the risk of breast cancer and that abortion is not a requirement for pregnant women who find themselves with breast cancer. Some doctors suggest that such women have an abortion so they can focus on treating the cancer.

But the study, involving patients at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, puts to rest some earlier studies suggesting maternity makes cancer situations worse.

Dr. Beth Beadle, who works at the prestigious medical center and is the lead author of the study, told AP that both mother and baby can be cared for during treatment.

"If we can get them early, we can treat them aggressively and have good and promising outcomes for both woman and child," she said.

The new study, published today in the medical journal Cancer, included 652 women under the age of 35 who were treated for breast cancer at the center over 36 years.

The group included 104 women who were diagnosed with cancer either during their pregnancy or one year following. The research found the rates of cancer recurrence, spread, and survival were approximately the same for the pregnant women as with non-pregnant women.

Beadle, an oncologist, told AP that there was no evidence that tumors grew faster in pregnant women than other women who dealt with a cancer diagnosis.

Ruth O’Regan, an associate professor at Emory University’s Winship Cancer Institute in Atlanta, also told AP that cancer doctors can treat both mother and child without the need for an abortion.

"It’s quite complicated, but all of us have been able to treat pregnant women successfully," O’Regan said.

Dr. Joel Brind, the president of the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute and a professor at Baruch College in New York, says studies like this one confirm what experts already know — that abortion is unnecessary for pregnant women with cancer.

"You see, the amazing discovery that it is actually better for women diagnosed with cancer while pregnant (called gestational cancer) to carry the pregnancy to term is hardly news. It wasn’t even news last year or twenty years ago. About 70 years ago, it was news," he wrote in a previous editorial.

Brind points to numerous studies going as far back as 1931 and others done in 1976 and 1980 showing abortion is not medically indicated for women undergoing cancer treatment.

"This advice would be good to keep in mind, next time saving both mother and child is dressed up as news," he says.

"But it would also be good to keep this in mind whenever the ‘life of the mother exception’ comes up. Not only does this claim represent a very small fraction of abortion decisions, but it’s generally a bogus claim anyway," Brind explained. "Abortion terminates lives; it doesn’t save them."

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