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Radiology. 2006 Apr;239(1):52-60. Epub 2006 Feb 16.

Imaging of breast cancer diagnosed and treated with chemotherapy during pregnancy.

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  • 1Departments of Diagnostic Radiology and Breast Medical Oncology, University of Texas, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd, Unit 57, Houston, TX 77030, USA.



To retrospectively assess mammography, high-frequency-transducer ultrasonography (US), and color Doppler US for the initial and subsequent evaluation of breast cancer diagnosed and treated with chemotherapy during pregnancy.


A retrospective study of clinical records between January 1989 and December 2003 of women with breast cancer diagnosed and treated with chemotherapy during pregnancy was performed after waiver of informed consent was obtained. The study was approved by an institutional review board and was HIPAA compliant. Mammograms and sonograms were reviewed by two mammographers using the Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) mammographic and US lexicon. US assessment of the regional lymph node basins, including the axillary, infraclavicular, internal mammary, and supraclavicular regions, was documented. US was used to evaluate response to therapy in the breast and the regional lymph nodes in women who underwent neoadjuvant chemotherapy.


Twenty-three women with 24 cancers that were imaged prior to surgery with mammography (n = 3), US (n = 4), or mammography and US (n = 17) were included in the study. The histologic diagnosis of the primary tumor was invasive ductal cancer in 22 lesions, and the diagnosis was invasive carcinoma in the two other cancers. The median age in this study was 34 years (range, 24-45 years). Of the 20 women who underwent preoperative mammography, findings were positive for malignancy in 18 of 20 (90%) cancers despite dense breast parenchymal patterns (BI-RADS types 3 and 4). A mass in all 21 cancers (100%) was depicted in the 20 women who underwent breast and nodal US. US correctly depicted axillary metastasis in 15 of 18 women who underwent US nodal assessment. Of the 12 patients who were evaluated for response to chemotherapy, US demonstrated complete response in two patients, partial response in three, stable findings in one, and progression of disease in six.


Breast cancer diagnosed during pregnancy is mammographically evident despite dense parenchymal background. US, when performed, demonstrates all masses and provides information regarding response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

(c) RSNA, 2006.

Comment in

  • Mammography and fetal dose. [Radiology. 2007]
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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