Virchows Archiv

, Volume 443, Issue 1, pp 44–50 | Cite as

Pregnancy and breast cancer: a population-based study

  • W. Reed
  • E. Hannisdal
  • E. Skovlund
  • S. Thoresen
  • P. Lilleng
  • J. M. Nesland
Original Article


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.


Pregnancy Breast cancer Hormone receptor c-erbB-2 c-erbB-4 Prognostic factors 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. Reed
    • 1
  • E. Hannisdal
    • 2
  • E. Skovlund
    • 3
  • S. Thoresen
    • 4
  • P. Lilleng
    • 5
  • J. M. Nesland
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PathologyThe Norwegian Radium Hospital, University of OsloOsloNorway
  2. 2.Health NorthBodøNorway
  3. 3.Section of Medical StatisticsUniversity of OsloNorway
  4. 4.The Norwegian Cancer RegistryOsloNorway
  5. 5.Institute of GadeHaukeland HospitalBergenNorway

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