Virchows Archiv

, Volume 443, Issue 1, pp 44–50

Pregnancy and breast cancer: a population-based study


    • Department of PathologyThe Norwegian Radium Hospital, University of Oslo
  • E. Hannisdal
    • Health North
  • E. Skovlund
    • Section of Medical StatisticsUniversity of Oslo
  • S. Thoresen
    • The Norwegian Cancer Registry
  • P. Lilleng
    • Institute of GadeHaukeland Hospital
  • J. M. Nesland
    • Department of PathologyThe Norwegian Radium Hospital, University of Oslo
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00428-003-0817-z

Cite this article as:
Reed, W., Hannisdal, E., Skovlund, E. et al. Virchows Arch (2003) 443: 44. doi:10.1007/s00428-003-0817-z


The incidence of pregnancy-associated breast cancer, i.e. during pregnancy and lactation, and of pregnancy subsequent to a breast-cancer diagnosis will increase as more women choose childbearing at a later age. Few larger series are published on pregnancy-associated breast cancer. In a population-based study, we evaluated the outcome and prognostic factors in 173 breast-cancer patients. One hundred and twenty-two patients had pregnancy-associated breast cancer (20 coincident with pregnancy and 102 during lactation) and 51 patients had pregnancy subsequent to breast cancer. The median follow-up time was 151 months. Histopathological parameters and immunoreactivity for oestrogen and progesterone receptors c-erbB-2 and c-erbB-4 were studied. All three groups had tumours with high histological grade, low frequency of hormone receptors and high expression of c-erbB-2. The pregnancy and lactation groups were near identical with regard to all histopathological parameters and outcome. In the two pregnancy-associated breast-cancer groups, tumours were significantly larger, with more extensive lymph-node involvement. For node-negative tumours the respective 5- and 10-year survival rates were 62% and 50% in the pregnancy group and 60% and 50% in the lactation group. For node-positive tumours, respective 5- and 10-year survival rates were 50% and 34% in the pregnancy group and 50% and 33% in the lactation group. In the subsequent group, overall survival was high in both node-negative and -positive groups, with 5- and 10-year survival rates of 80% and 73% and 86% and 76%, respectively. Tumour size, lymph-node status, histological grade, progesterone receptor, oestrogen receptor and c-erbB-2 were significant prognostic factors in the pregnancy-associated breast-cancer patients.


PregnancyBreast cancerHormone receptorc-erbB-2c-erbB-4Prognostic factors

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003