Breast cancer in pregnancy is comparatively rare. Around 1 in every 3,000 pregnant females have the risk of developing breast cancer, but it is the most basic kind of cancer detected during pregnancy.
Pregnant women will encounter changes in their breasts like swelling, soreness, and tenderness, which can result in lumps or chunks of masses. While several lumps that grow during pregnancy are not malignant or cancerous, a woman with any lumps needs to be checked by a healthcare professional. If you are one of them experiencing breast cancer symptoms or have a doubt about it, go for a complete body checkup but before that you need to learn more about the disease.
In today’s blog, we will together learn about breast cancer in pregnancy treatment. A lot of pregnant women who undergo a diagnosis of breast cancer respond to treatment just like non-pregnant ladies of a similar age with a similar stage of breast cancer.
However, a pregnant woman may face more complications while receiving treatment for breast cancer, as there may be strife between the best possible treatment for the parent and the baby’s well-being. So, let’s learn about the diagnosis, treatment methods, stages of breast cancer, and some FAQs.
How Is It Diagnosed?
If you are a pregnant woman and facing some common mild symptoms, the best thing you can do is regularly visit your doctor’s clinic. These routine visits are known as prenatal (or “before delivery”) checkups, and they’re necessary for keeping your baby and you in the best possible health condition. During a few of these visits and prenatal checkups, you may have breast assessments to look for changes. Breast cancer treatment and pregnancy are the deadliest yet rare combo, and fortunately, it’s curable.
A mammogram diagnosis technique is being used to detect any breast cancer symptoms. It is anticipated to be fairly safe and secure during pregnancy, but a mammogram may not be as useful due to the elevated density of the breast tissues. A three-dimensional mammogram or a 3D mammogram may be a good choice.
If a dubious lump is detected, your doctor or surgeon should perform a biopsy. They’ll take a sample of the dubious breast tissue with a needle or by making a fine slit. The sample of suspicious breast tissue then gets assessed under a microscope and with other techniques to check for any cancer cells.
Your doctor or healthcare provider might also recommend an ultrasound to examine the spread of the disease and guide the biopsy.
What Are The Treatment Guidelines For Breast Cancer
Since developing breast cancer during pregnancy is comparatively rare, merely small research has been performed on curing breast cancer during pregnancy. Pregnant ladies must receive the best-possible breast cancer care during pregnancy and to make sure this happens, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (or simply NCCN), a collaboration of 19 top-notch cancer institutions actively working in the United States, curated guidelines in order to treat breast cancer during pregnancy. Thousands of cancer institutions around the globe use these guidelines. Chances are you may develop breast cancer after pregnancy, but that’s a completely different case.
The breast cancer treatment guidelines are distinct for each stage of pregnancy and tumor so that baby and mother both get the best possible treatment and care. The treatment of breast cancer during pregnancy is classified into three different categories. Each pregnant woman with breast cancer receives treatment based on the stage of cancer and pregnancy. Below, we are discussing all three stages of treatment in brief:
First trimester: In case you are a pregnant woman (have been pregnant for three months or less), the treatment guidelines consider the probability of terminating the pregnancy. However, the breast cancer treatment guidelines don’t corroborate that you must terminate your pregnancy since you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer. But it is one of the options presented before you, and it’s necessary to anticipate or consider all the alternatives while making a decision.
In the initial three months of pregnancy, if you are determined to go with your pregnancy, the next step you need to face is mastectomy with axillary lymph node dissection. Mastectomy is suggested over radiation and lumpectomy at this level of the pregnancy. That happens because radiation treatment techniques are not safe during pregnancy. (In non-pregnant women, lumpectomy and radiation therapy may be as useful as mastectomy.) Post-surgery cancer treatment guidelines recommend starting chemotherapy in the second trimester of breast cancer treatment. Chemotherapy has not to be given amid the first trimester. It is crucial to note that if hormonal and radiation therapy are vital, they need to wait until they deliver their baby.
Second trimester: If breast cancer is detected throughout the second trimester of pregnancy, the treatment guidelines either lumpectomy or mastectomy, with axillary lymph node dissection. Chemotherapy could be started before surgery. If you and your doctor go with the lumpectomy treatment method, then any necessary hormonal therapy and radiation therapy would be given after delivering the baby.
Third trimester: The breast cancer treatment guidelines suggest that you will receive either lumpectomy or mastectomy if you have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer during your third trimester, with axillary lymph node dissection. The second option that can be considered is chemotherapy, and it can be safely used if required. Hormonal and radiation therapy, if required, would be provided after the baby is born.
The treatment guidelines say that most pregnant ladies diagnosed with breast cancer have been easily treated with a blend of chemotherapy, Cytoxan (medical jargon: cyclophosphamide), medicines Adriamycin (medical jargon: doxorubicin), and fluorouracil. The treatment guidelines didn’t mention the taxanes:
- Abraxane (medical jargon: albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel)
- Taxol (medical jargon: paclitaxel)
- Taxotere (medical jargon: docetaxel)
The breast cancer treatment guidelines also haven’t mentioned targeted therapies. Though, the targeted therapies used to cure breast cancer particularly say that they have not to be used to treat pregnant women with breast cancer in their prescribing information.
Symptoms Of Breast Cancer During Pregnancy
Women must continue breast cancer screening tests and evaluations. Plus, they should speak to their healthcare provider or doctor about any suspicious lumps in their breasts. Below we will be discussing the breast cancer symptoms during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, it can be more challenging for women to observe or detect early pregnancy breast cancer symptoms and signs. This disease occurs because the breast tissues expand and become motherly as milk tracts expand and stretch to prepare for breastfeeding.
Pregnant women need not anticipate small yet suspicious lumps that are pregnancy-related and neglect them like, as they could be the early sign of development of breast cancer.
A few women may also delay breast cancer assessments, screenings, and mammograms until they deliver the baby. When women go for regular screenings, pregnancy can lead to dense breast tissue, making it tougher to notice signs of early cancer.
FAQs About Breast Cancer During Pregnancy
Below are the most frequently asked questions about breast cancer during pregnancy that you can go through to get the answers to your questions for the same.
What Happens To My Baby If I Develop Breast Cancer?
Terminating a pregnancy in the initial months won’t reduce a woman’s possibilities of beating breast cancer. Also, there’s no proof that breast cancer harms the unborn baby, although cancer treatments have risks.
Surgery, generally, is safe during any stage or trimester of pregnancy. If the breast cancer is in its initial stages, your healthcare provider will probably suggest removing either the dubious lump (lumpectomy) or the whole breast (mastectomy). If you’re in the initial or second trimester, a mastectomy treatment technique is the most preferred one. A lumpectomy is often an alternative treatment technique for females in the third trimester. Radiation therapy generally doesn’t begin until a woman delivers, as this treatment technique can harm the baby.
Does Pregnancy Worsen Breast Cancer
Having any trimester of pregnancy doesn’t lead to breast cancer, but if you already have developed a few breast cancer cells, the hormonal variations during pregnancy may lead them to spread.
What Is the Survival Rate Of Breast Cancer
There is no fixed treatment method for patients with matured or advanced stage (such as stage III or stage IV) breast cancer during pregnancy. So, what is breast cancer during pregnancy survival rate? Several types of research and studies show a 5-year survival rate of 10% in pregnant women with stage III or IV breast cancer disease.
Some breast cancer treatments methods are not safe for your unborn baby, including radiation, hormonal, and targeted therapy. You should consult with a healthcare professional before opting for any treatment technique. You can visit University Cancer Centers for a better breast cancer treatment along with a great ambiance. We have a highly skilled and experienced healthcare staff that you can completely rely on.