What happens if you are diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant?

Cancer is a diagnosis that is always life-changing, although some patients can experience more difficult complications than others. If you’re an expecting mother who has been diagnosed with a breast cancer tumor, you may feel overwhelmed when trying to make treatment decisions. At MountainView Hospital , we provide the advanced cancer treatments you need and the patient-centered, compassionate guidance you deserve.

Undergoing cancer surgery during pregnancy
Surgery is often part of a cancer treatment plan and generally safe for the fetus. It is possible for anesthesia drugs to cross the placenta but doesn’t appear to cause birth defects or pregnancy complications.

Another concern about having surgery during pregnancy is the post-surgical pain management plan. The surgeon and obstetrician can coordinate the treatment plan to minimize the risk to your baby.

The type of surgery must also be carefully considered. Mastectomies are generally recommended instead of lumpectomies when the cancer is diagnosed in the first trimester. This is because lumpectomies are usually followed by radiation therapy, which needs to be administered after the baby is born.

Women in their second and third trimesters may still be good candidates for a lumpectomy, as they can delay radiation therapy.

Cancer treatments to avoid during pregnancy
It is possible to safely treat breast cancer during pregnancy, but certain treatments need to be avoided until after the baby is born. These include radiation therapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapy.

In the event that an expecting mother needs aggressive treatment for advanced cancer or inflammatory breast cancer, pregnancy termination can be discussed with a psychologist or other mental health counselor in addition to her oncologist.

Receiving chemotherapy during pregnancy
The American Cancer Society advises against having chemotherapy during the first trimester , as this isn’t safe for the baby. It’s thought that chemotherapy is safer later on in the pregnancy.

When chemo is given during pregnancy, it’s discontinued three weeks prior to the anticipated due date. This gives women some time to recover their strength before labor and delivery.

At MountainView Hospital, you’ll find sensitive, personalized medical guidance delivered by specialists who genuinely care about you and your baby. Our cancer care experts work tirelessly to give our patients the best possible outcome. Expecting mothers in the Las Vegas area can speak with a registered nurse at (702) 962-5021.

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