Women who become pregnant while in remission from Hodgkin lymphoma were not at increased risk for cancer relapse, according to an analysis of data from Swedish health care registries combined with medical records.
Of 449 women who were diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma between 1992 and 2009, 144 (32%) became pregnant during follow-up, which started 6 months after diagnosis, when the disease was assumed to be in remission. Only one of these women experienced a pregnancy-associated relapse, which was defined as a relapse occurring during pregnancy or within 5 years of delivery. Of the women who did not become pregnant, 46 had a relapse.
The effect of pregnancy on relapse has been a concern of patients and clinicians, but “our findings suggest that the risk of pregnancy-associated relapse does not need to be taken into account in family planning for women whose Hodgkin lymphoma is in remission,” said Caroline E. Weibull of Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, and her associates.
The researchers used the nationwide “Swedish Cancer Register” to identify all cases of Hodgkin lymphoma (reporting is mandatory) and merged this data with clinical information from other registries and medical records.
The pregnancy rates were similar among women who had limited- and advanced-stage disease and among women with and without B symptoms at diagnosis – a finding that negates consideration of a so-called “healthy mother effect” in protecting against relapse, they wrote (J Clin Onc. 2015 Dec. 14 [doi:10.1200/JCO.2015.63.3446]).
The researchers also found that the absolute risk for relapse was highest in the first 2-3 years after diagnosis, which suggests that women should be advised, “if possible, to wait 2 years after cessation of treatment before becoming pregnant.” Additionally, the relapse rate more than doubled in women aged 30 years or older at diagnosis, compared with women aged 18-24 years at diagnosis – a finding consistent with previous research, they noted.
Women in the study were aged 18-40 at diagnosis. Follow-up ended on the date of relapse, the date of death, or at the end of 2010, whichever came first.