Santa Barbara
66° F
Santa Maria
58° F
San Luis Obispo
59° F
Scattered Clouds
Scattered Clouds
62° F

Pregnancy possible after breast cancer

By Mary Motzko
Published On: Sep 16 2011 04:03:47 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 26 2013 03:19:33 PM CDT
young breast cancer survivor


Courtney Bugler and her husband were planning on starting a family when their baby plans took an unexpected detour -- Courtney was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Upon hearing the news, Courtney, who was then 29, was immediately concerned she wouldn't be able to have the baby she was hoping for.

"Is this going to ruin our chances to have a baby?" was one of the first questions Courtney said she asked her doctors.

Luckily for her and her husband, Courtney had options.

Since Courtney, who was being treated at Northwestern University in Chicago, knew she wanted to eventually have a family, fertility experts were looped in to her treatment plans.

According to Dr. Ralph Kazer, the chief of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Northwestern University, if a doctor at NU has a cancer patient who wants to become pregnant, the fertility doctors are quickly brought on to her case. Then the doctors will work together to treat the woman.

"We make sure that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing," Kazer said.

Before undergoing a lumpectomy, Courtney was able to have eggs harvested and turned into embryos.

She then went through chemotherapy and radiation to treat her breast cancer, followed by hormone therapy. Courtney then took a break from her hormone treatments and waited for three months to get the tamoxifen out of her system before she tried to get pregnant.

Courtney -- who eventually also had her ovaries removed -- became impregnated with the frozen embryos she stored before her cancer treatments. She says she got pregnant right away, but eventually miscarried about nine weeks later. About six weeks after her miscarriage, Courtney repeated the process with the embryos and once again became pregnant.

About nine months later, Courtney had the title of a breast cancer survivor and the proud mother of an infant son.

Courtney, who said her pregnancy was actually fairly routine, said she knows several women who have also had babies after -- and even during -- breast cancer treatment. According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 out of every 3,000 pregnant women are diagnosed with breast cancer. But, a pregnancy doesn't mean a patient can't be treated for breast cancer. According to Kazer, in some instances, patients can receive certain types of chemotherapy when they are late in their pregnancy.

However, there are some risks involved to having a baby after or during breast cancer treatments.

According to the American Cancer Society, there is a link between estrogen levels and the growth of breast cancer cells. Because of this, many doctors advise their patients to wait at least two years after completing treatment before trying to get pregnant. This gives doctors a chance to find any early signs of a recurrence. Women who are currently undergoing hormone therapy are also advised to talk to their doctors before becoming pregnant. Some of the hormones could affect the growing baby.

Because of the concerns over estrogen levels, Courtney was concerned when she was told to take hormones during her pregnancy. However, she was assured by her doctors that if she still had her ovaries, the ovaries would have produced the hormones she was taking as supplements naturally anyways.

According to Kazer, for many women, pregnancy after or during breast cancer can come without huge risks.

Kazer said doctors are learning that women who have babies after breast cancer are not more likely to have recurrences, and that women who develop breast cancer during pregnancy do not have a worse prognosis.

Even the babies who are born to breast cancer patients are fairing well.

"Breast cancer itself is not a risk to the baby," Kazer said.

For these reasons, Courtney thinks breast cancer patients need to be aware that getting pregnant might still be possible.

"You should at least be aware of what your options are," she said.


The views expressed are not those of this company or its affiliated companies. Please note by clicking on "Post" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms Of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. 
blog comments powered by Disqus
  • fatal_accident_investigation

    Extensive Investigation into Triple Fatal Accident

    An extensive investigation is underway to determine the cause of death in a triple fatal rollover accident Monday morning in Santa Barbara.

  • Triple Fatal Auto Accident on Highway

    3 Dead In Early Morning Accident, Driver Arrested For DUI

    The 101 southbound through Santa Barbara reopened just before 12:30 Monday afternoon as authorities investigate what they say was a deadly two car DUI accident.

  • girl_child_coughing_sick_whooping_cough

    Contagious Diseases Making a Comeback in California

    Deadly diseases that were a thing of the past are making a comeback in California.

  • fuzion_store_business_santa_barbara

    UCSB Group Boycotts Business For Promoting Deltopia

    A UCSB student group is boycotting a local business for creating the Deltopia Facebook page, which they said brought in thousands of outsiders to the small college town.

  • Witnesses to Fatal Crash

    Eyewitnesses See Triple Fatal Crash from Roadside Camp

    A homeless couple watching the freeway from their campsite in Santa Barbara this morning, witnessed the triple fatal accident that took the lives of two teens and a young man.

  • Triple Fatal Auto Accident on Highway

    DUI Driver in Fatal Early Morning Accident Ordered to Detox Program in 1995

    The Santa Barbara woman arrested for DUI in the early morning accident that left three people dead early Monday morning has a lengthy court record out of Ventura County. Kimberly Kreis, 52, was ordered to serve 30 days in a detox program as far back as 1995.

    The car that Kreis was driving crashed into a disabled Mazda near the Castillo off-ramp of the southbound 101 freeway in Santa Barbara. Two 17 year old North Torrance High School students were killed in the accident- Jessica Leffew and Danielle Murillo. 20 year old Brian Lopez also died in the wreck. The driver of the Mazda, Eric August, is hospitalized in critical condition.

    A NewsChannel 3 investigation found records out of Ventrua County that appear to show that Greis has at least one prior conviction involving drugs and or alcohol, and in 1995 she was ordered to serve 30 days in a Cottage Hospital detox program.

    CHP investigators are still trying to piece together why the Mazda veered right into a guardrail, causing it to flip onto it's roof before coming to rest in the middle of the southbound freeway, which set into motion the deadly accident.

    CHP Officer Jonathan Guiterrez, said "A lot of things could have happened, He could have fallen asleep. We just don't know at this point."

  • Larry Lee Cal Poly Coach

    Cal Poly Baseball Earns No. 1 National Ranking

    The Mustangs achieved the school's second No. 1 national ranking in Division I as Collegiate Baseball Newspaper has placed Cal Poly atop its Top 30.

  • Parents of Mallory Dies Sue Congresswoman, Her Former Aide, and U.S. Government

    The parents of a young Santa Barbara woman killed in a high profile, DUI case are suing Congresswoman Lois Capps, her former aide Raymond Morua, and the U-S government in federal court.

  • Lupita Nyong'o

    REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

    People's 'World's Most Beautiful' list 2014

    People magazine recently named Lupita Nyong'o its "World's Most Beautiful" for 2014. See which other ladies earned a coveted spot on the annual list.

  • Slideshow: Extensive Investigation into Triple Fatal Accident

    An extensive investigation is underway to determine the cause of death in a triple fatal rollover accident Monday morning in Santa Barbara.