Breast cancer is a common type of cancer among women, but breast cancer during pregnancy is rare. However, the number is increasing in recent years. If you have breast cancer while you are getting pregnant, treatment is complicated but this does not mean you cannot be cured. Let’s see how to cope with this disease.
The goal of treatment for breast cancer during pregnancy
Treatment for breast cancer can contain several processes and be more complicated because you have a baby in your body. The goals of treatment are to cure your disease, help you live a prolonged life, and control it if it cannot be cured, as well as protect your baby.
Thus, the treatment process should be carefully planned because the growth of the baby can affect your treatment.
Continue your pregnancy
The question when you are diagnosed with breast cancer while you are pregnant is: “Do you have to stop your pregnancy?” In most cases, you do not have to terminate the pregnancy. But some women choose to terminate their pregnancy. This is your own decision. You can discuss with your doctor about this issue. They will give you some recommendations. Then you and your partner can decide if you want to continue your pregnancy.
There is no evidence that the termination can help you fight breast cancer better, or breast cancer can affect your baby. The breast cancer will not pass on to your baby, and your baby will not develop breast cancer later in life if he or she was born by a breast cancer mom. But treatment for breast cancer can have some risks or side effects.
Treatment options for breast cancer during pregnancy
Breast cancer during pregnancy can be treated. Here are some treatments that can be done. Your treatment will depend on your wishes, your type of breast cancer, and which trimester you are in. If you are near to delivery, treatment may be delayed. If you are breastfeeding, you should stop breastfeeding before you receive treatment, so that the treatment cannot affect your baby.
Surgery is generally safe at any trimester during your pregnancy. There are usually two types of surgery options for treating cancer: lumpectomy and mastectomy. In a lumpectomy, surgeons remove just area of cancer and the healthy tissues around it. This is sometimes called breast conserving surgery. You will have radiotherapy after lumpectomy. In the mastectomy, surgeons will remove your whole breast and the tissues above your chest. You will have radiotherapy if the breast cancer comes back.
Reconstructive surgery can be done after the breast cancer surgery if you want to have your breast again. The surgeons will do the breast shape for you.
Mastectomy are commonly recommended if you have breast cancer during pregnancy because it usually requires no radiotherapy. And if you want reconstructive surgery, it may be done after you deliver.
Chemotherapy should be started after at least 14 weeks of pregnancy and stopped 3-4 weeks before the delivery to prevent infection and bleeding. Studies have shown that if you have chemotherapy during this period, your child is safe.
Radiotherapy, Hormonal, and biological therapy are not recommended while you are having baby because not only can they affect the development of your child, they also harm your baby. Hormonal therapy is also not recommended when you are breastfeeding. And you should only have radiotherapy after you give birth.
There are several treatments can be used to help you fight sickness, and pain due to breast cancer, or breast cancer treatment. Talk with your doctor if you need some. Do not take medicines that are not recommended by the doctor. They can affect how treatment works, and harm your baby.
Your health care team (including your doctor, your nurse, etc ) will plan to help you deliver as normal as possible. It means you will be able to give birth to your child close to your due date if it is safe. Your type of delivery will depend. You may have a vaginal delivery or a caesarean section. Your doctor will discuss with you about this before you have your baby.
Breast cancer does not usually spread to your baby. But in very rare cases, breast cancer cells can pass to your baby through the placenta. So the doctor will collect your placenta and determine if it has the cancer cells.
Your doctor will also tell you if you can breastfeed your baby. Some cancer drugs can go into your breast milk and pass to your baby.
Although breast cancer during pregnancy is rare, you have a small risk for this disease. But you can know how to cope with it then it will no longer be as threatened as it used to be before. Do not afraid, do not worry, and do not feel alone. Your health care provider can help you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: April 2, 2017 | Last Modified: April 13, 2017
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Types of breast cancer surgery. http://about-cancer.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/breast-cancer/treatment/surgery/types-surgery. Accessed February 11, 2017.
Breast cancer during pregnancy. https://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/information-support/facing-breast-cancer/living-beyond-breast-cancer/fertility-breast-cancer-treatment/breast-cancer-during-pregnancy. Accessed February 11, 2017.
Treating Breast Cancer During Pregnancy. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/treatment/treating-breast-cancer-during-pregnancy.html. Accessed February 11, 2017.