Beyond The Shock – Chapter 5 – Types & Stages – Breast Cancer During Pregnancy

Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer
during pregnancy have tremendous additional strain due to concern for the safety of the
unborn child. It is a traumatic and extremely difficult situation, but there is still hope
because of the many treatment options available. If you are pregnant and have been diagnosed,
be sure to communicate information about your pregnancy to your doctor. Your medical team
will take extra care in designing the treatment plan that best controls the breast cancer
while protecting your unborn child. Your treatment plan will depend on the size
of the tumor, its location, and the term of your pregnancy. As with women who are not
pregnant, surgery is the first step for treating early-stage breast cancer. Surgery during
pregnancy carries little risk to your unborn child, so your medical team will most likely
proceed by removing the lump, and possibly some lymph nodes from under the arm, with
a lumpectomy or mastectomy. Chemotherapy may be a treatment option, depending
on your cancer type and the stage of your pregnancy. The effects of hormone therapy
on unborn children is not entirely understood; because of this, if hormone therapy is prescribed,
it will most likely be used only after the baby is born. Although the cancer cannot spread to and harm
the unborn child, sometimes the best treatment plan for the mother may put the unborn child
at risk. These decisions will require the expertise and consultation between your obstetrician,
surgeon, medical oncologist, and radiation oncologist. You will also need the emotional
support of family and friends and may benefit from the professional assistance of a skilled
counselor or psychologist.

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