Breast Cancer Diagnosed During Pregnancy:

Pregnancy-related breast cancer is uncommon, although one in every 3000 pregnant women is diagnosed. Many women have gone on to have healthy infants and live healthy lives after being diagnosed with breast cancer; in fact, research has shown that pregnant women with breast cancer do just as well as non-pregnant women. Pregnancy-related breast cancer is defined as any breast cancer discovered during pregnancy, while breastfeeding, or within a year of childbirth.

Breast cancer can be difficult to identify due to changes in the breast that occur during pregnancy and lactation. As a result, pregnancy-related breast tumours are larger and more advanced than those found in non-pregnant women. Nonetheless, many diagnostic and therapeutic procedures are safe for pregnant women and their newborns.

Breast Cancer Staging and Treatment During Pregnancy:

Treatment for breast cancer discovered during pregnancy will be determined by the stage of the tumour and the stage of your pregnancy. Most pregnancy-related breast cancers are treated with a combination of local and systemic therapy, though treatment may alter or be performed in a different order than if you were not pregnant.

The goal of local therapy is to keep cancer from returning to the breast. Local therapy in general consists of either breast conservation surgery (lumpectomy with radiation) or mastectomy. Although radiation is not indicated during pregnancy, a lumpectomy can be performed during pregnancy and radiation can begin after the baby is delivered.

Systemic therapy is intended to keep the disease from returning or spreading to other areas of the body. This may include endocrine (hormone) therapy, chemotherapy, and HER2 protein-targeting therapy. Various methods of treatment are frequently used in tandem to produce the best results.

Chemotherapy is not administered during the first trimester because it can result in birth abnormalities or the loss of the baby. However, certain chemotherapy can be administered safely during the second and third trimesters without causing harm to the foetus.

Chemotherapy administered before surgery (neoadjuvant treatment) may be advised during pregnancy.

If your tumour produces oestrogen or progesterone, your doctor may suggest endocrine (hormone) therapy. Endocrine therapy is not advised during pregnancy but can be started after the baby is born.

If your tumour is HER2 positive (expresses the HER2 protein), medications that target HER2 may be included in your treatment plan and will begin after you give birth.

Your doctors may discuss with you the option of having your baby delivered early so that therapy can begin as soon as possible.

Breast cancer treatment has an impact on breastfeeding. Chemotherapy and hormonal therapy may transfer into breast milk and are frequently unsafe for the baby if performed on a lactating breast. It may be advised that you discontinue or postpone nursing. A lactation consultant may be able to answer your breastfeeding questions now and in the future.

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