What happens if you are pregnant and have breast cancer?

Can a woman who has had breast cancer safely have a baby? 

Most doctors discourage women from becoming pregnant for from 3 to 5 years following treatment for breast cancer, since recurrences most often happen during this period of time. Recent research has shown that pregnancy after breast cancer has no effect on survival rates. Statistics for women who have had breast cancer and become pregnant are at least as good as those of similar women who do not become pregnant.

What is the outlook for women who discover breast cancer during pregnancy? 

About 7 percent of women who develop breast cancer happen to be pregnant at the time of diagnosis. The outlook for a pregnant woman is just as favorable as that for a nonpregnant woman of the same age with a similar stage of disease provided that the cancer is diagnosed and treated promptly. When a suspicious lump is found, prompt biopsy is just as appropriate for a pregnant woman as for a nonpregnant woman. Biopsy can usually be performed on an outpatient basis, with little risk to the fetus. 

Mother and baby healthy after breast cancer treatment during pregnancy


The types of biologic changes that occur during pregnancy high output of hormones like estrogen and prolactin are known to favor breast tumor growth. Nevertheless, termination of the pregnancy does not improve a woman's prognosis. Breast cancer has never been known to spread across the placenta to the fetus. Chemotherapy is hazardous to the development of the baby during the first 3 months. During the second and third trimesters, the drugs may not interfere with the development of the baby, but the long range effects are uncertain. Radiation also poses hazards to the baby, and its use is discouraged during pregnancy.

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