Breast cancer can occur at any time, including during pregnancy. It's the most common form of cancer in pregnancy, affecting approximately one in 3,000 women.
Pregnancy itself does not cause breast cancer, and breast cancer does not spread to the developing fetus.
Due to changing hormones during pregnancy, breast cancer is often found at a later stage in pregnant women.
Although breast cancer treatment during pregnancy is possible, it's more complex due to the possible effects to the developing baby.
Any type of breast cancer can occur during pregnancy, including:
Pregnancy is associated with a specific set of risks for breast cancer, including:
Talk to your doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:
Because excessive radiation exposure, maternal anesthesia, or other diagnostic or therapeutic approaches may harm a developing baby, you and your doctor will need to discuss risk factors and possible outcomes in detail.
Some procedures may not be appropriate during pregnancy.
Experts at the Magee-Womens Breast Cancer Program use a variety of tests and procedures to diagnose and screen for breast cancer, including:
If you're diagnosed with breast cancer associated with pregnancy, treatment will depend upon many variables:
Your doctors and other specialists at the Magee-Womens Breast Cancer Program will work with you to discuss risk factors, consider your options, and determine a course of action.
In many cases, we may also recommend additional therapies before (neo adjuvant) or after (adjuvant) surgery to control an aggressive cancer or to reduce the risk of recurrence. We do not recommend radiation therapy for pregnant women, due to the potential harm to the fetus.
Procedures and treatments for breast cancer may include:
||The surgical removal of part of the breast with a cancerous tumor (lumpectomy), breast tissue, or the entire breast. In some cases, lymph nodes are also removed. In rare cases, some of the chest muscles are removed as well.|
|Sentinel lymph node biopsy
||A minimally invasive procedure to remove lymph node tissue in the armpit to check if existing breast cancer is spreading (metastasizing). Women diagnosed with an invasive breast cancer typically undergo a sentinel lymph node biopsy.|
|Axillary lymph node dissection
||Surgery to remove all or a group of lymph nodes in the underarm (axilla), if your sentinel lymph node biopsy is positive for cancer.|
|Additional Breast Cancer Therapies|
||The administration of drugs to destroy the growth abilities of cancer cells. It is sometimes used with radiation therapy.|
||The use of drugs that stop the production of certain hormones that the cancer needs to grow.|