Nowadays breast cancer is like an evil for women, it hovers over them like a ghost and engulf them as soon as it gets chance. It is not surprising to diagnose a women with breast cancer during pregnancy as it can attack women at any stage of life. According to American Cancer Society, 1 out of 3000 pregnant women suffer from this disaster. It is being expected that this ratio will increase in future. Women who want to have baby late in life are more suscepted to diagnose with breast cancer during pregnancy. Older age women are also at high risk to get this disease.
Breast cancer during pregnancy is also called gestational breast cancer. One of the major issue with gestational breast cancer is its delayed diagnosis. During pregnancy there is a disturbance in regular hormone balance as the level of progesterone, estrogen and prolactin become elevated. These hormones cause breast to undergo certain changes. During pregnancy and lactation, breast tissues become thicker and dense which cause inability to detect cancer cells on mammogram. ( a technique to detect cancer)
If you feel any lump in your breast or under armpit or any abnormal change which is not desirable then never feel shy. Confidently examine your self or consult to your physician about your problem. In this technological era , there are many techniques to diagnose cancer. These techniques include mammogram, ultrasound and MRI. Mammogram is thought to be the efficient and safest way of diagnosis as it uses least radiations which is not harmful for the fetus. For the purpose of extra protection lower abdomen region is also covered with a special lid so that radiations have no way to reach to the fetus.
Treatment Of Gestational Breast Cancer:
Medical field has developed so much that many impossibilities now happen to be possible so is the case with cancer, if it is detected at an early stage it can be cured easily. Treatment of breast cancer depends upon many factors such as size of tumor, location of tumor, duration and how far it has spread. While treating a pregnant woman one also have to focus on the fetus. Treatment includes.
Surgery is the safest way to treat breast cancer during pregnancy because it cause little or no harm to the fetus. There are 2 ways of breast surgery one is known as mastectomy which includes the entire breast removal and the other way is known as breast conserving surgery (BCS) in which only the affected part is removed. Most preferd way is mastectomy because BCS require later radiation therapy which prevents the regeneration of cancer cells.
Chemotherapy depends upon the stage of pregnancy . It is not good to treat a woman with chemotherapy during first 3 months or after 35th week. It should be started atleast 4 weeks after delivery. Radiotherapy is not considered safe during pregnancy as it causes growth defects, neural tube defects and mental retardation in the fetus.
Lactation during breast cancer:
Breast feeding is prohibited during cancer or after any breast cancer treatment. A woman whose breast cancer is treated with surgery, stopping breast feeding reduces the risk of infection because there may be chances that the breast milk may accumulate in the affected area and cause infection.