Risk of abnormalities in pregnancies conceived after chemotherapy

Last Modified: July 21, 2003


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
My partner has been successfully treated for Hodgkin's disease. He his 27 years old and his treatment ended about 3 years ago. We are thinking about having children together. He tells me that after his treatment ended they checked his sperm count and there were no problems. However can you please tell me whether there is any evidence to suggest that chemotherapy may result in an increased risk of having children with disabilities or genetic diseases? 


Selina M. Luger, MD, Director of the Leukemia Program and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

Although there is (1) an increased risk of abnormalities in pregnancies conceived while either partner is receiving chemotherapy and (2) there is a variable risk of sterility after chemotherapy, there is no increased risk of abnormality/ genetic malformation in pregnancies conceived in patients who have received chemotherapy in the past. That is to say, that it is not safe to become pregnant while on chemotherapy, and there may be difficulties in conceiving if someone has had chemotherapy, but otherwise there are no risks related to the fetus/infant.