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  • Writer's pictureOren Zarif

Pregnancy and Breast Cancer Symptoms - Oren Zarif - Pregnancy and Breast Cancer

The emergence of breast cancer during pregnancy can lead to a delicate conversation between you and your oncologist. Your goal is to discuss all the aspects of your treatment with your cancer care team. Together, you can make the best decision for you and your unborn child. Your oncologist will work with you to make sure your treatment plan is safe and effective during pregnancy. To help you navigate the conversation with your oncologist, here are some tips.

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Fortunately, most treatments for breast cancer during pregnancy are safe and effective. Although breast cancer treatment may not harm an unborn baby, the condition does affect the mother's health. Therefore, most women with breast cancer can continue with routine treatments. While most chemotherapy regimens are safe during pregnancy, some may decrease the mother's blood cells, making it imperative to stop treatment near delivery. Other treatments, such as hormone therapy or targeted therapies, must be postponed until after delivery.

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While it is rare for breast cancer to develop during pregnancy, women should know the symptoms and how to perform a proper breast examination during pregnancy. Most breast lumps during pregnancy are harmless and are likely to be clogged milk ducts preparing to feed the baby. However, any new lumps or bumps should be checked by a healthcare provider. While breast cancer during pregnancy is extremely rare, it does occur in one in every three pregnancies. Pregnant women should get regular breast exams and report any lumps or changes to their doctor.

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MRIs are safe for pregnant women because they do not use contrast dye. Chest x-rays are also safe for pregnant women, especially if the abdomen is shielded. Breast cancer during pregnancy can be diagnosed through a breast biopsy. Breast biopsy procedures can be done on an outpatient basis under general or local anesthesia. The radiation exposure to the fetus is minimal. If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor may perform a noninvasive biopsy to determine if you are pregnant or not.

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During pregnancy, women's breasts can change in appearance, making it harder for doctors to detect lumps caused by cancer. For this reason, many women delay undergoing a mammogram until after pregnancy. The good news is that breastfeeding makes breast tissue denser, making it easier to detect cancer on the mammogram. The risk of breast cancer during pregnancy is low if you follow the recommended guidelines.

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While breast cancer and pregnancy are not directly linked, women should still seek medical help for breast cancer during pregnancy. Treatment for the disease during pregnancy is similar to that given to women without cancer, though some adjustments are necessary to protect the developing fetus. If you have planned to have surgery, you should discontinue breastfeeding. Moreover, the use of hormone-releasing drugs can cause harm to your baby. Regardless of which treatment option you choose, you should be sure to discuss your options with your specialist team.

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The next step is a mammogram or ultrasound. An ultrasound probe finds the abnormal area and collects tissue from it. A sample is sent to a laboratory to be examined under a microscope. Some tests cannot be used during pregnancy because of the potential for radiation to the baby. Your doctor will balance the risks of cancer treatment with the risks to the unborn baby. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, contact your doctor right away.

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If you suspect that you might have a breast tumor during pregnancy, visit your doctor immediately. During your pregnancy, breast cancer can be harder to detect. If you have breast lumps, talk with your GP. She will check your pregnancy status and recommend the next step. Your doctor may recommend an ultrasound scan or a mammogram. The ultrasound is safer than x-rays and doesn't damage the baby.

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Because breast cancer treatment is more effective with early stages, the surgery may be delayed. Radiation, especially for early stage cancers, requires a post-pregnancy waiting period. However, radiation therapy isn't recommended for the first trimester of pregnancy, and it may even cause harm to the fetus. Ultimately, your doctor should discuss the best option for you. The risk of radiation and chemotherapy to the baby is minimal compared to the risk of a mastectomy.

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