Breast cancer in pregnancy: a literature review
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- Molckovsky, A. & Madarnas, Y. Breast Cancer Res Treat (2008) 108: 333. doi:10.1007/s10549-007-9616-6
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Breast cancer in pregnancy is a clinically challenging situation for patients and their physicians. A review of the literature was performed to help identify optimal treatment strategies.
A Medline search between 1966 to the present using the keywords “breast”, “carcinoma”, and “pregnancy” revealed numerous hits, from which English-language articles including epidemiologic studies, case series, and general summaries were reviewed.
There is a paucity of prospective studies regarding diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer in pregnancy due to its rarity. However a general review of the literature database reveals that women diagnosed with breast cancer during pregnancy have similar disease characteristics to age-matched controls. Surgery remains the mainstay of treatment of breast cancer during pregnancy, and in some circumstances breast-conserving surgery is an acceptable option. Adjuvant treatment can proceed with some modifications that minimize harm to the fetus, namely limiting radiation exposure and timing chemotherapy properly. Post-partum decisions regarding lactation and future fertility should be addressed on a per-patient basis.
Breast cancer in pregnancy is an uncommon phenomenon but one which poses dilemmas for patients and their physicians. A multi-disciplinary approach is recommended for optimal clinical-decision making.