Having breast cancer during pregnancy is very rare. As per the National Cancer Institute, it occurs to only 1 in every 3 000 pregnant females. However, it is a common type of cancer that happens to pregnant women. Females with breast cancer during pregnancy can experience several significant changes in their breasts like tenderness and swelling that can develop as lumps. Most of the lumps developed during pregnancy are not cancerous. Through a cancer screen test, you can detect whether you have it or not.
Signs and symptoms of breast cancer during pregnancy
During pregnancy, several changes take place in your body. These changes are tenderness and size increase. And so, it is hard to notice the symptoms of breast cancer during pregnancy. Without screenings, no one can say that small lumps developed during pregnancy are cancer. These can be the beginning of cancer.
Some methods for diagnosing breast cancer during pregnancy are safe while some may put the unborn baby or the foetus at risk. Here are some safe options:
- Mammograms – In general, mammograms are safe in detecting breast cancer during pregnancy. With the use of minimum radiation, this screening test focuses on the breast and leaves no impact on the foetus. Placing a lead shield on the belly area offers better protection.
- Ultrasound exams – An ultrasound examination doesn’t use any radiation. And hence, it is safe for the baby in the uterus.
- Breast biopsies – Doctors use this method on outpatients and take small breast tissues through a needle for examination. To numb the area, they apply for certain medicines.
- MRI scans – Many experts think MRI scans are not safe for detecting breast cancer during pregnancy. The foetus might have bad impacts and lead to foetal taksim escort abnormalities. In a very rare case, doctors recommend MRI scans.
Is breast cancer treatment during pregnancy safe?
As a pregnant woman, you can go through particular cancer treatments. You may remain safe. However, your unborn baby might have some higher risks. Your doctor will follow the set guidelines to minimise the risks to you and your unborn baby.
Cancer treatment for pregnant women is different in each trimester. Have a look at safe treatment options for each trimester:
- First trimester – Many experts suggest a mastectomy with lymph node biopsy. In it, doctors remove breast tissues from the affected breast through a surgical procedure. It is safer in comparison to lumpectomy with radiation, as radiation is not safe for the unborn baby. Further, experts avoid using chemotherapy to treat breast cancer in the first trimester. Instead of treating breast cancer in the first trimester, you should opt for terminating your pregnancy.
- The second trimester – If your doctor detects and diagnoses breast cancer in the second trimester, the safe treatment option is mastectomy or lumpectomy. On mutual understanding, your doctor can use chemotherapy for treating your breast cancer before surgery. Further, your doctor may opt for hormonal therapy and radiation therapy at the end of pregnancy.
- Third trimester – Mastectomy and lumpectomy are the safe treatment options for breast cancer in the third trimester. You can receive chemotherapy to treat your breast cancer in this period and hope for receiving hormonal and radiation therapy at the end of your pregnancy.
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The breast cancer treatments that are not safe for the unborn baby
Particular cancer treatments are not safe during pregnancy and harm the baby in the uterus. Doctors avoid suggesting certain treatment options that are as follows:
- Radiation therapy – By following a lumpectomy, doctors recommend radiation therapy for lowering the risk of cancer returning. As doctors use high doses of radiation, the baby in the uterus would have slow growth, childhood cancer, and birth defects. Pregnant women have a higher risk of miscarriages as an effect of radiation therapy.
- Hormone therapy – With the use of certain drugs such as tamoxifen, doctors stop hormones to function or remove them from patients with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. Doctors execute this therapy after the surgical procedure.
- Targeted therapy – In this procedure, doctors use medicines to target the proteins that promote cancer growth in breasts and treat HER2 positive breast cancer.
You need to be very careful if you have breast cancer during pregnancy. At your end, you should educate yourself through doctor consultations and other reliable resources. Go through only the safe diagnosis option to detect it and make a healthy and wise decision.