Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

Mainstream Media Now Pushing Chemotherapy During Pregnancy

Published on October 12, 2015 by   ·   No Comments



Did a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine prove that chemotherapy is safe during pregnancy? That’s certainly what media reports — and the researchers themselves — would have you believe. Some reports have even claimed that the study proves all cancer treatments, including radiation, are safe for pregnant women.

“Our results show that fear of cancer treatment is no reason to terminate a pregnancy, that maternal treatment should not be delayed and that chemotherapy can be given,” lead researcher Frederic Amant said.

But a closer look at the published study reveals that the data actually show no such thing.

What do they say they found?

The research was a follow-up from a prior study in which data were pooled together from different tests performed on children of different ages. This time, the researchers instead focused only on children up to three years old. Thus, even if its methodology were flawless, the study could at best show that no ill effects are seen from in utero exposure to chemotherapy within the first three years of life. Longer-term developmental or immune effects could not be tested or accounted for by this methodology.

The researchers compared various health outcomes in children whose mothers had undergone cancer treatment during pregnancy with those of children whose mothers were cancer-free. The study found no difference between the two groups in terms of cognitive outcome; birth weight, length and head circumference; or incidence of medical problems and need for medical care. No connection was found between these outcomes and the number of chemotherapy cycles undergone by the mothers, which ranged from one to ten.

There’s just one problem: the researchers did not actually compare chemotherapy with non-chemotherapy patients.

What did they really find?

The study was conducted on a small sample of pregnant women with widely varying cancer types — 18 in all. There were 69 cases of breast cancer, with the next most prevalent cancer type consisting of only 10 cases and most types represented by only one or two cases.

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