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Cancer. 2003 Sep 1;98(5):1055-60.

Breast carcinoma in pregnant women: assessment of clinicopathologic and immunohistochemical features.

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Department of Pathology, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, PO Box 85, Houston, TX 77030, USA.



Breast carcinoma is one of the most common carcinomas in pregnant women. The incidence of breast carcinoma may increase in the future because of the trend toward delayed childbearing and increased screening. However, very few contemporary studies have attempted to identify the combined histopathologic and immunohistochemical features of breast carcinoma in these patients.


The authors evaluated 39 patients with breast carcinoma occurring coincident with pregnancy. This was comprised of a critical histologic review and immunohistochemical evaluation to determine the status of prognostic and predictive markers including estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), HER-2/neu, Ki-67, and p53.


The mean age at presentation was 33 years (range, 24-44 years). Densities and/or masses were noted on mammograms in 14 of 16 patients with available radiographic information. The primary tumors were a mean of 4.5 cm in greatest dimension (range, 0.1-13.5 cm). Two of the 39 patients had clinical (American Joint Committee on Cancer) Stage I disease, 19 patients had Stage II disease, 16 had Stage III disease, and 2 patients had Stage IV disease at the time of presentation. Histologically, high-grade invasive ductal carcinomas were found in 32 of 38 patients. The primary tumor was not available for review in one patient. A predominantly solid pattern of growth was observed in nine patients. Lymphovascular invasion was identified in 61% of cases. Ductal carcinoma in situ was identified in 72% of tumors and was high grade in all cases. Of the 25 patients tested, ER positivity was found in 7 patients, PR positivity was found in 6 patients, HER-2/neu positivity was found in 7 patients, and p53 positivity was found in 12 patients. The proliferation rate as shown by Ki-67 staining was high in 60% of the cases. Follow-up information was available for 35 patients and the mean follow-up period was 43 months (range, 2-163 months). Distant metastasis occurred in seven patients. The mean time to disease recurrence was 20.4 months (range, 10-33 months). Of 35 patients, 4 have died, 22 were alive with no evidence of disease, and 9 were alive with disease at the last follow-up. The remaining four patients died of unknown causes.


Pregnant women with breast carcinomas generally present with advanced-stage disease and the tumors have poor histologic and prognostic features. The findings from the follow-up indicated that these tumors do not follow a very aggressive clinical course as was proposed in earlier reports. Breast carcinomas occurring during pregnancy share many histologic and prognostic similarities with breast carcinoma occurring in other young women.

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