Being diagnosed with cancer as an adolescent or young adult (AYA) does not confer an additional risk for stillbirth, according to a population-based study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute

To estimate the risk of stillbirth in this population, researchers studied 8402 patients in Texas who had received a cancer diagnosis during 1995-2015, at 15 to 39 years of age. 

These patients had 11,696 deliveries of pregnancies conceived after diagnosis. Stillbirth was defined as fetal death at a gestational age of 20 weeks or older or at a weight of 350 grams or more. 


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The cumulative incidence of stillbirths was 0.70% at 40 weeks’ gestation. The median gestational age at stillbirth was 26.0 weeks. 

The fetal mortality rate in AYA patients with cancer (adjusted by age and race/ethnicity) was similar to that in the general population, with a standardized fetal mortality ratio of 0.99 (95% CI, 0.77-1.26). 

However, the researchers did find differences in the risk of stillbirth according to race/ethnicity. With non-Hispanic White patients as the comparator, the adjusted risk for stillbirth was more than twice as high among Hispanic patients (risk ratio, 2.64; 95% CI, 1.29-5.41) and was more than 4 times as high among non-Hispanic Black patients (risk ratio, 4.13; 95% CI, 1.68-10.16). 

The researchers noted that, overall, the cumulative incidence of stillbirth was not significantly different by cancer type. However, AYA patients with gastrointestinal cancer had the highest cumulative incidence of stillbirth at 40 weeks (3.02%), and AYA patients with breast cancer had the lowest (0.34%). 

“Given our findings, AYA women considering pregnancy may be counseled that stillbirth is rare, and for most women, a history of cancer and prior receipt of chemotherapy do not appear to confer additional risk,” the researchers concluded.

Disclosures: One study author declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures. 

Reference

Murphy CC, Betts AC, Allicock MA, et al. Stillbirth after adolescent and young adult cancer: A population-based study. J Natl Cancer Inst. Published online August 27, 2022. doi:10.1093/jnci/djac168