Pregnancy-associated breast cancer

Pregnancy-associated breast cancer

Pregnancy-associated breast cancer, defined as breast cancer diagnosed during pregnancy or in the year after a pregnancy, accounts for 7 per cent of breast cancers in young women (Ives 2009), which is around 100 women annually in Australia. These women typically have a higher disease stage and more aggressive tumour features at diagnosis. However, when matched by age and disease stage with other breast cancer cases, there appears to be no survival difference, except in women diagnosed in the postpartum period, who have higher mortality and increased distant recurrence even after accounting for these factors.

There is an increased incidence of pre-term delivery for this group and management by a multidisciplinary team experienced in caring for these patients is recommended, with consideration given to the optimal time and type of delivery.

A multidisciplinary team approach is essential in managing this group. Initial investigation of any breast symptom in a pregnant or lactating woman should be the same as any other woman, to avoid diagnostic delays. The treating team should include health professionals involved in the treatment of breast cancer, the care of pregnancy and psychosocial support. The recommended obstetric and cancer management of a woman presenting with gestational breast cancer will depend on the fetal gestation and disease status at diagnosis.