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The prognosis of women diagnosed with breast cancer before, during and after pregnancy: a meta-analysis

  • Epidemiology
  • Published:
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Objective

Previous meta-analyses have examined the prognosis of women with pregnancy-associated breast cancer (PABC) as well as pregnancy that follows breast cancer diagnosis. Since then, many additional studies have been performed. We conducted an updated meta-analysis to examine the prognosis for women who become pregnant before, during and after a diagnosis of breast cancer. We also performed analyses on the various subgroups within PABC such as pregnancy and postpartum cases, as well as on time periods postpartum.

Methods

We identified studies that reported on overall (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) in patients diagnosed with breast cancer during pregnancy or up to 5 years postpartum from four electronic databases. We also identified studies that reported on OS and DFS where pregnancy up to 5 years occurred after a breast cancer diagnosis.

Results

41 studies met our inclusion criteria (cases = 4929; controls = 61,041) for pregnancy occurring during or before breast cancer diagnosis. There was an overall increased risk of death amongst patients compared to non-pregnant controls [HR 1.57; 95 % CI 1.35–1.82]. Subgroup analysis indicated poor survival outcomes for those diagnosed either during pregnancy or postpartum (PABC) [HR 1.46; 95 % CI 1.17–1.82] as well as those diagnosed during pregnancy alone [HR 1.47; 95 % CI 1.04–2.08]. Those diagnosed postpartum had the poorest overall survival [HR 1.79; 95 % CI 1.39–2.29]. Similarly, patients with PABC had decreased DFS compared to controls [HR 1.51; 95 % CI 1.22–1.88]. Those diagnosed postpartum were the most at risk of disease progression or relapse [HR 1.86; 95 % CI 1.17–2.93]. 19 studies met our inclusion criteria (cases = 1829; controls = 21,907) for pregnancy following breast cancer diagnosis. Such women had a significantly reduced risk of death compared to those who did not become pregnant [pHR 0.63; 95 % CI 0.51–0.79]. A subgroup analysis to account for the “healthy mother effect” generated similar results [pHR 0.65; 95 % CI 0.52–0.81].

Conclusion

Pregnancy that occurs before or concurrently with a diagnosis of breast cancer is more likely to result in death and decreased disease-free survival. On the other hand, pregnancy occurring after a breast cancer diagnosis reduces the risk of death.

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Correspondence to Guy D. Eslick.

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Hartman, E.K., Eslick, G.D. The prognosis of women diagnosed with breast cancer before, during and after pregnancy: a meta-analysis. Breast Cancer Res Treat 160, 347–360 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10549-016-3989-3

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