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J Am Coll Surg. 2002 Jan;194(1):54-64.

Multidisciplinary management of breast cancer concurrent with pregnancy.

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Department of Surgical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030, USA.


The management of PABC is very difficult. The incidence of PABC is low, but may be increasing because of the number of women who are becoming pregnant at a later age. More investigation is needed to understand whether the biology of PABC is different from that of breast cancer in nonpregnant women. One exciting area of further research is the potential relationship between mutations in known breast cancer susceptibility genes and breast cancer development during pregnancy. Diagnosis or PABC remains challenging because of the anatomic and physiologic changes that occur in the breast during pregnancy. Understanding the generic influences on PABC may help physicians in diagnosing this disease earlier, and understanding the tumor-receptor characteristics of PABC can help physicians deliver effective treatment. The various modalities available for treatment of PABC and their risks and benefits must be discussed openly with patients and their families. Abortion is not usually recommended. Modified radical mastectomy is the recommended treatment for PABC diagnosed during the first trimester. Neoadjuvant or adjuvant chemotherapy can be given with minimal risks to the fetus during the second or third trimester. Radiation therapy is contraindicated during pregnancy because of the potential for injury to the fetus. Breast conservation therapy, with radiation treatments given after delivery or after neoadjuvant chemotherapy, is an option for women with PABC diagnosed late in pregnancy. Once the appropriate treatment modality is chosen, its implementation must not be delayed because of the pregnancy. Most of the literature shows that women with PABC have the same survival stage for stage as nonpregnant women with breast cancer. But some studies suggest that the prognosis is worse for patients who present with advanced-stage PABC. Finally, recurrence and survival in most patients previously treated for breast cancer do not appear to be adversely affected by subsequent pregnancy. Above all, the patient with breast cancer diagnosed during pregnancy is best served by early and continued involvement of a multidisciplinary cancer treatment team.

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