Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Mammary cancers and pregnancy.

Br Med J 1979; 1 doi: (Published 28 April 1979) Cite this as: Br Med J 1979;1:1124

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  1. J M Anderson


    Uncertainties persist about management and prognosis of mammary cancers that occur during and after pregnancy and during lactation. Pathological features of mammary cancers occurring during pregnancy are the same as those in non-pregnant women and survival rates are comparable. Management should be the same as in non-pregnant patients. Termination of pregnancy does not improve survival but it should be advised if the prognosis is poor. Mastectomy apparently presents little danger to the fetus, though treatment such as chemotherapy and irradiation should be avoided. Women who have received treatment for mammary cancer need not be advised against subsequent pregnancy. Routine ovarian radiation in non-pregnant premenopausal women is not generally to be recommended, since it does not prolong survival and would deprive some of the chance of further pregnancy. In lactating women who develop mammary cancers survival is apparently not adversely affected. Lactation should be suppressed initially and followed by mastectomy. Regimens of immunotherapy, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy may then be begun. Until results of current trials of combined treatments of mammary cancers associated with pregnancy are available, management should be neither aggressive nor tentative. It should be based on a well-balanced concept of applying all available treatments, as in non-pregnant patients.