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For pregnant cancer patients, registry offers hope –

April 10, 2016 – Marie McCullough, Staff Writer

Nineteen years ago, Elyce Cardonick got a call about a newly diagnosed lymphoma patient whose fast-growing chest tumor was causing severe breathing problems.

The cancer patient was 13 weeks pregnant and had rejected her oncologist’s advice to abort before starting toxic chemotherapy.

Cardonick, a young maternal-fetal medicine specialist then at Jefferson University Hospital, discovered that little was known about treating cancer during pregnancy. The issue became her calling, inspiring her to create the Pregnancy and Cancer Registry to collect data about treatment and long-term results for both mothers and children.

Today, the registry includes nearly 400 women who battled 23 types of malignancy, including colon, ovarian, and lung cancer. Ninety-five percent of them gave birth and, as Cardonick has published, the results are both reassuring and surprising: Effective cancer treatment need not compromise the health of the unborn child.

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