Some hormones measured in pregnancy are linked to certain hormone-sensitive cancers. We investigated whether routine serum screening in pregnancy is associated with a woman’s subsequent risk of hormone-sensitive cancer.
This population-based cohort study included women aged 12-55 years who underwent prenatal screening between 11 weeks + 0 days of gestation to 20 weeks + 6 days of gestation in Ontario, Canada, 1993-2011, where universal health care is available. The hazard ratio of newly diagnosed breast, ovarian, endometrial, and thyroid cancer-arising at 21 weeks + 0 days of gestation or thereafter-was estimated in association with an abnormally low (≤5th) or high (>95th) percentile multiple of the median (MoM) for alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), total human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), unconjugated estriol, pregnancy-associated plasma protein A, and dimeric inhibin A.
Among 677 247 pregnant women followed for a median of 11.0 years (interquartile range = 7.5-16.1), 7231 (1.07%) developed breast cancer, 515 (0.08%) ovarian cancer, 508 (0.08%) endometrial cancer, and 4105 (0.61%) thyroid cancer. In multivariable adjusted models, abnormally high hCG greater than the 95th percentile MoM was associated with a doubling in the risk of endometrial cancer (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] = 1.98, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.33 to 2.95), and abnormally low AFP at the fifth percentile or less MoM conferred a moderately greater risk of thyroid cancer (aHR = 1.21, 95% CI = 1.07 to 1.38). Abnormally low pregnancy-associated plasma protein A at the fifth percentile or less MoM was not statistically significantly associated with breast cancer after multivariable adjustment (aHR = 1.19, 95% CI = 0.98 to 1.36).
Women with abnormally high levels of serum hCG or low AFP in early pregnancy may be at a greater future risk of certain types of hormone-sensitive cancers.

© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press.