Karolinska Institutet researchers in Sweden demonstrated there is no correlation between pregnancy and relapse in women with a successfully treated Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) diagnosis. The paper, titled “Pregnancy and the Risk of Relapse in Patients Diagnosed With Hodgkin Lymphoma,” was published in The Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Researchers wanted to address understudied and lingering concerns regarding pregnancy, a unique immune and inflammatory state, and the risk of relapse following treatment in HL patients. This correlation was especially important as survival rates have greatly improved and large numbers of female HL survivors, many of them still young, wish to get pregnant. For instance, Karolinska Institutet researchers put the five-year relative survival rate for women diagnosed up to age 50 in Sweden at close to 95%.
The team enrolled 449 women, between the ages of 18 and 40, diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma between 1992 and 2009. Of these patients, 144 gave birth at least once in the follow-up period (up to five years, or up to five years after delivery). They found that 47 women in the total patient group had a relapse, and only one within five years of giving birth. The results revealed no evidence of an increased rate of relapse among patients with HL after a pregnancy, and that the absolute risk for relapse was highest in the first two to three years after diagnosis, a factor that perhaps should enter, if possible, in the planning of future pregnancies for recently treated HL patients.
Dr. Ingrid Glimelius, an oncologist at Akademiska Hospital in Uppsala and a researcher affiliated to Karolinska Institutet, said in a press release, “The risk of relapse is at its highest during the first two or three years of diagnosis. At the same time, treatment of the primary disease and a possible relapse can cause premature menopause and, at worst, infertility. Survivors of Hodgkin lymphoma need to consider a range of factors when deciding about future reproduction. However, given the results of this study, the risk of pregnancy-associated relapse does not need to be considered.”