Breast Cancer and Pregnancy

Early-Stage Breast Cancer (Stage I and Stage II)
Treatment for early-stage breast cancer (stage I and stage II) may be surgery followed by adjuvant therapy, as follows:
 
  • Modified radical mastectomy
  • Breast-conserving surgery: lumpectomy, partial mastectomy, or segmental mastectomy
  • Breast-conserving surgery during pregnancy followed by radiation therapy after the baby is born
  • Surgery during pregnancy followed by chemotherapy after the first three months of pregnancy.
     
Late-Stage Breast Cancer (Stage III and Stage IV)
Treatment of late-stage breast cancer (stage III and stage IV) may include the following:
 
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy.
     
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy should not be given during the first three months of pregnancy
 

Other Considerations Regarding Breast Cancer and Pregnancy

If surgery is planned, breast-feeding should be stopped to reduce blood flow in the breasts and to make them smaller. Breast-feeding should also be stopped if chemotherapy is planned. Many anticancer drugs, especially cyclophosphamide and methotrexate, may occur in high levels in breast milk and may harm the nursing baby. Women receiving chemotherapy should not breast-feed. Stopping lactation does not improve survival of the mother.
 
Breast cancer does not appear to harm the fetus, since breast cancer cells do not seem to pass from the mother to the fetus.
 
Pregnancy does not seem to affect the survival of women who have had breast cancer in the past. Some doctors recommend that a woman wait two years after treatment for breast cancer before trying to have a baby, so that any early return of the cancer would be detected. This may affect a woman's decision to become pregnant. The fetus does not seem to be affected if the mother has previously had breast cancer.
 
Effects of certain cancer treatments on later pregnancies are not known. The effects of treatment with high-dose chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, with or without radiation therapy, on later pregnancies are not known either.
 
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