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Breast cancer in pregnancy

Breast cancer is difficult to overcome on it own, however what happens if it occurs during pregnancy? It is thought that breast cancer occurs around once in every 3,000 pregnancies.

Can pregnancy cause breast cancer?

Pregnancy cannot cause breast cancer, however the hormonal changes in your body that occur during pregnancy can act as a trigger to the cancer.

Can breast cancer be more difficult to detect if you are pregnant?

Women who are pregnant, nursing or have just given birth are likely to have swollen or tender breasts. This can make checking for lumps difficult and given the stress women are under during this time, they are less likely to check as often as they would.

Is breast cancer more likely to happen during pregnancy?

There is an increased risk during pregnancy so keeping up the self exam is essential. Getting an exam done on your first doctors visit is a priority, this should be done by a physician or nurse. One of the main problems with breast cancer in pregnancy is a possible delay in detection, meaning low survival rates at the advanced stage of breast cancer.

This is why continuing with your monthly self exam is so important. This should also means during the time you are nursing.

Does the cancer affect the baby?

There is no evidence that breast cancer will affect your baby. Having an abortion will not increase your chances of survival.

Some of the treatments of Breast Cancer can harm the baby. These treatments depends on what stage the cancer is detected. If the cancer is in the earlier stages (stage 1 or 2), most likely you will either have the lump removed (Lumpectomy) or the breast removed (Mastectomy). The Mastectomy is the most probable option given the worry of the delay in giving radiation treatment due to the pregnancy.

Is surgery safe during pregnancy?

There is always a risk with surgery pregnant or not. It is better to have surgery at the earliest opportunity, within the first trimester if possible. It is a decision for your doctor and you to discuss.

Does Breast feeding lower the risk of breast cancer?

There are a number of studies to suggest that breast feeding does reduce the risk of breast cancer although this is thought to only minimal. There are two main theories to why this happens. Your menstrual cycles are reduced due to the breast feeding so less risk. The other is breast feeding reduces your prolactin levels.

Pregnancy after breast cancer?

Doctors generally advise to wait around two years before getting pregnant after treatment for breast cancer. This is because breast cancer is most likely to return within this period. Treatment is more difficult if you are pregnant and you have a young baby to look after.

There are concerns that the female hormone Oestrogen can trigger the return of breast cancer. Talk over this with your doctor to get advice based upon your medical history and circumstances.

 

Related links

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Is phenergan safe during pregnancy?
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