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Childbearing woman at risk for cancer

October 23, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
More women are delaying having children until their late 30s and even 40s. As women get older, their risk of breast cancer increases. Today, about 1 in 4 new breast cancer cases occurs in women of childbearing age. Leeza Jordan fought a tough battle with breast cancer with her daughters Paige and Lauren by her side.

"I never kept anything from my children. They were right there through the whole process," said Jordan.

Stage-3 inflammatory breast cancer wreaked havoc on her body. But after a year of chemotherapy and radiation, Leeza went into remission, met her new husband and starting thinking about another baby.

"After giving a woman chemotherapy we're not sure if the woman can get pregnant," said Dr. Sonalee Shroff, Hematology Oncology Consultants.

Despite concern surrounding fertility after chemotherapy, Leeza got pregnant.

"Low and behold we got our little miracle," said Jordan.

A miracle named Cassidy. Although Leeza didn't experience fertility problems, many women who battle breast cancer and receive chemotherapy do.

Obstetricians now give women an option to harvest healthy eggs before they begin cancer treatments.

Women who have survived breast cancer and want to become pregnant should talk to their doctor to make sure they're healthy enough to carry a baby, and to discuss the risks involved -- the biggest of which is recurrence.

"There's some anecdotal and theoretical evidence that suggests that increased estrogen state will cause perhaps a resurgence of breast cancer," said Dr. Shroff.

During pregnancy, a woman's breasts are exposed to increased levels of estrogen and other hormones that can trigger tumor growth.

"The first thing that ran through my mind was recurrence," said Jordan.

But so far, Leeza's cancer free.

"Every day is a gift," said Jordan.

A gift that she shares with her big happy family.


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