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Survival Similar for Breast Cancer Patients Diagnosed While Pregnant

According to an article recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, overall survival for patients who are diagnosed with breast cancer at the time they are pregnant is similar to those who are diagnosed while not pregnant.

Most breast cancers occur in elderly women; however, there is a significant portion of women who are diagnosed in their 30’s and 40’s. Of these women, some find out that they have breast cancer while they are pregnant.

Standard therapy protocols may be used to treat breast cancer among pregnant women that have demonstrated no harm to the growing fetus. It is important for pregnant women with breast cancer to discuss all options with their healthcare providers.

Researchers from Belgium and Germany recently evaluated data in order to determine if survival among women who are diagnosed with breast cancer while they’re pregnant was significantly different than for women diagnosed with breast cancer while not being pregnant. The study included 311 women who were diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant, and 865 women diagnosed with breast cancer while not pregnant. The data included women who were 45 years or younger. Median age was 33 years among women diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant was 41 years for those diagnosed with breast cancer while not pregnant. Patients were followed for approximately 5 years.

At 5 years, cancer-free survival was 65% for those diagnosed while pregnant, and 71% for those diagnosed while not pregnant.
Overall survival at 5 years was 78% for those diagnosed while pregnant, and 81% for those diagnosed while not pregnant.
The researchers concluded that The results show similar [overall survival] for patients diagnosed with [breast cancer while pregnant] compared with nonpregnant patients. “This information is important when patients are counseled and supports the option to start treatment with continuation of pregnancy.”

Reference: Han S, von Minckwitz G, Amant F, et al. Prognosis of Women With Primary Breast Cancer Diagnosed During Pregnancy: Results From an International Collaborative Study. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2013; 31 (20):2532-2539.