Pregnancy after Chemotherapy

Last Modified: October 28, 2007


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

I had Hodgkin's disease, treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy just over a year ago. I just found out I am pregnant and am concerned because I was told to wait three years. What are the risks for my child?


Babis (Charalambos) Andreadis, MD, Assistant Professor in Medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at the Abramson Cancer Center and an Associate Scholar in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

There is no definitive evidence in the literature to suggest that there is an increased incidence of chromosomal abnormalities, fetal birth defects, miscarriage, or low birth weight among the babies of women who have been treated with chemotherapy or radiation. The only exception is among women who have received pelvic radiation, where there is a higher chance of preterm labor and delivery, low birth weight, and placental disorders. Most of this data comes from studies reporting long-term follow-up of childhood cancer survivors.

Among patients with lymphomas, and Hodgkin’s disease in particular, studies from the 1980s show no adverse outcomes from subsequent pregnancies even in the first year after completion of treatment, although the numbers are low. Regular follow-up during pregnancy is recommended by an experienced high-risk obstetrician.