Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 108, Issue 3, pp 333–338

Breast cancer in pregnancy: a literature review


DOI: 10.1007/s10549-007-9616-6

Cite this article as:
Molckovsky, A. & Madarnas, Y. Breast Cancer Res Treat (2008) 108: 333. doi:10.1007/s10549-007-9616-6



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.


Breast cancerPregnancy

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of OncologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Cancer Centre of Southeastern OntarioKingston General HospitalKingstonCanada