Building the capability to conduct population-based research on cancer during pregnancy

As more women are delaying childbearing until later ages, a growing number of them will be diagnosed with
cancer during pregnancy. However, little is known about cancer and its treatment in pregnant women. The
estimates of cancer prevalence during pregnancy vary from 2 to 10 per 10,000 pregnancies, but there are
currently no reliable, up-to-date prevalence estimates in the U.S. to help measure the clinical and public
health burden of the devastating condition. Decisions about cancer management in pregnant women must
balance the benefits of the treatments against their potential harms on both the mother and the infant.
Unfortunately, existing evidence to guide this decision-making process is limited and based primarily on
small studies with significant limitations.
This pilot project – proposed by a multidisciplinary team of investigators – represents a major step toward
better understanding and management of cancer in pregnant women, an extremely vulnerable and
traditionally under-represented population in cancer research. All 5 participating sites – Harvard Pilgrim
Health Care Institute (HPHCI), HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research (HPIER), Kaiser
Permanente Colorado (KPCO), Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC), and Meyers Primary Care
Institute (MPCI) – are affiliated with both the Cancer Research Network (CRN4) and the FDA-funded
Medication Exposure in Pregnancy Risk Evaluation Program (MEPREP). The pilot project will leverage the
shared data resources and content expertise of the two research consortia. The collaboration will create an
unparalleled database – with linkages among administrative and claims databases, electronic health records,
tumor registries, and infant birth certificates – that can be used to conduct high-quality population-based
research on cancer during pregnancy.
This project fits the interests of the CRN Epidemiology of Prognosis & Outcomes Scientific Working Group.

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