Rate of Cancer During Pregnancy Lower Than Expected

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The number of observed cancer cases during pregnancy was lower than predicted for all types, according to an article published online in the journal Cancer.

The study was register-based and used data from the Swedish Multi-Generation Register and the National Cancer Register from 1963 to 2007. The women were assessed at seven time periods: pregnancy, the three trimesters, 0-6 months, 7-12 months, and 2 years postpartum.

In the study, pregnancy-associated cancer (PAC) was determined to be a malignancy detected during pregnancy or within 2 years postpartum.

Results showed that the most common PACs were melanoma (n = 232), breast cancer (n = 139) and cervical cancer (n = 139).

The overall number of cancer cases during pregnancy was lower than expected by the study for all types of cancer, with the observed versus the expected (O/E) ratio of 0.46 (95% CI: 0.43, 0.49).

Throughout the windows of 0-6 months, 7-12 months, and the second year after delivery, the O/E ratio was close to 1 (0.93; 95% CI: 0.88, 0.98; 0.96; 95% CI: 0.91, 1.01; and 0.95; 95% CI: 0.92, 0.99, respectively).

All sites had a lower than expected rate of PAC, which could not be completely explained by delayed diagnosis.  A rebound in the number of cancer cases after pregnancy was limited to melanoma, nervous system malignancies, breast cancer, and thyroid cancer.


The number of observed cancer cases during pregnancy was lower than predicted for all types.
The rate of cancer during pregnancy was lower than expected for all sites, a finding that could not be explained entirely by delayed diagnosis.
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