Childbirth after adolescent and young adult cancer: a population-based study

Hazel B. Nichols, Chelsea Anderson, Kathryn J. Ruddy, Kristin Z. Black, Barbara Luke, Stephanie M. Engel, Jennifer E. Mersereau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: Annually, > 45,000 US women are diagnosed with cancer during adolescence and young adulthood (AYA). Since 2006, national guidelines have recommended fertility counseling for cancer patients. We examined childbirth after AYA cancer by calendar period, cancer diagnosis, and maternal characteristics. Methods: We identified a cohort of women with an incident invasive AYA cancer diagnosis at ages 15–39 during 2000–2013 in North Carolina. Cancer records were linked with statewide birth certificates through 2014. Hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for first post-diagnosis live birth were calculated using Cox proportional hazards regression. Results: Among 17,564 AYA cancer survivors, 1989 had ≥ 1 birth after diagnosis during 98,397 person-years. The 5- and 10-year cumulative incidence of live birth after cancer was 10 and 15%, respectively. AYA survivors with a post-diagnosis birth were younger at diagnosis, had lower stage disease, and had less often received chemotherapy than those without a birth. The 5-year cumulative incidence of post-diagnosis birth was 10.0% for women diagnosed during 2007–2012, compared to 9.4% during 2000–2005 (HR = 1.01; 0.91, 1.12), corresponding to periods before and after publication of American Society of Clinical Oncology fertility counseling guidelines in 2006. Conclusions: Despite advances in fertility preservation options and recognition of fertility counseling as a part of high-quality cancer care, the incidence of post-diagnosis childbirth has remained stable over the last 15 years. Implications for Cancer Survivors: Our study uses statewide data to provide recent, population-based estimates of how often AYA women have biological children after a cancer diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)592-600
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • Adolescent
  • Live birth
  • Neoplasms
  • Survivors
  • Young adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)


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