Not necessarily. As reported in the NY Times (registration required.)
There is a group of physicians who specialize in treating pregnant women with breast cancer at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX.
and in the letters to the editor from today:
A Successful Notion
To the Editor:
Re "New Notions on Pregnant Women With Cancer" (June 27): I find it interesting that your article highlights the statement "One study suggests that chemotherapy is in fact possible." My 2-year-old daughter is living proof.
When I was 10 weeks pregnant and 29 years old, I had a suspicious lump in my breast biopsied. When the radiologist confirmed the malignancy, she told me I needed to terminate the pregnancy to have any chance of a life with my husband and toddler son.
Luckily, the surgeons and oncologists I consulted were more knowledgeable about the latest research.
They knew that certain chemotherapy drugs were safe in the second and third trimesters, and they had treated pregnant women successfully. I had chemotherapy, and like the child of the woman in your article, my healthy daughter arrived with far more hair on her head than I had.
Lacey Calhoun Sikora
Oak Park, Ill.
To the Editor:
Re "New Notions": In 2004, while 21 weeks pregnant, I learned I had inflammatory breast cancer and received aggressive chemotherapy without terminating my pregnancy.
Thanks to my treatment, I am now cancer-free and have a healthy 2-year-old boy. Your article states that "treatment remains controversial" because of "uncertainty about the baby's long-term health and the possibility that the baby could be left motherless."
My husband and I chose to ignore the perinatologist who warned him — as if we needed reminding — that he "might be a single father."
No parent's or child's future is certain: being a parent necessarily means risking tragedy for the joys of love and life. It's true that living with cancer means living with uncertainty, but it also means living with hope.
Anya Krugovoy Silver