More than 20% of US patients diagnosed with cancer during pregnancy may be unable to terminate that pregnancy due to abortion laws in their state, a new study suggests. 

“We estimate approximately 800 individuals who’d be diagnosed with cancer in pregnancy annually and would not have any access to abortion services,” said Chinmayi Aryasomayajula, MD, of Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara in California.

“Cancer in pregnancy has been shown to be associated with not only higher odds of maternal morbidity and mortality, but also with higher odds of obstetrical complications,” Dr Aryasomayajula said when presenting this research at the 2023 SGO Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer.

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Dr Aryasomayajula and colleagues conducted this study using data from the United States Cancer Statistics database (2001-2019) and data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention–National Center for Health Statistics (2007-2019). 

Per those data, the incidence of cancers among women of reproductive age (15-44 years) was as follows:

  • Breast cancer — 38.8 per 100,000
  • Endocrine cancers — 20.3 per 100,000
  • Female genital tract cancers — 18.2 per 100,000
  • Gastrointestinal cancers — 11.3 per 100,000
  • Skin cancer — 10.1 per 100,000.

The data also suggested that 3672 cases of cancer are diagnosed during pregnancy each year in the US. Of those patients, 800 (21.6%) live in states where they would lack an option to terminate a pregnancy due to abortion restrictions, according to regulations as of September 4, 2022. 

An additional 1018 of those patients live in states where abortion laws are uncertain, and 1854 patients live in states where abortion is protected by law.

“Further studies are warranted to look at the impact of abortion restrictions on this population’s treatment patterns and any oncologic outcomes that may occur,” Dr Aryasomayajula said.

Disclosures: Dr Aryasomayajula reported having no conflicts of interest.


Aryasomayajula C, Liao CI, Chan A, et al. The impact of abortion restrictions on pregnant individuals with cancer in the United States: A statistical model. SGO 2023. March 25-28, 2023.