Outcome of patients with pregnancy during or after breast cancer: a review of the recent literature
An increasing number of young women are delaying childbearing; hence, more are diagnosed with breast cancer (bca) before having a family. No clear recommendations are currently available for counselling such a population on the safety of carrying a pregnancy during bca or becoming pregnant after treatment for bca.
Using a Web-based search of PubMed we reviewed the recent literature about bca and pregnancy. Our objective was to report outcomes for patients diagnosed with bca during pregnancy, comparing them with outcomes for non-pregnant women, and to evaluate prognosis in women diagnosed with and treated for bca who subsequently became pregnant.
“Pregnancy and bca” should be divided into two entities. Pregnancy-associated bca tends to be more aggressive and advanced in stage at diagnosis than bca in control groups; hence, it has a poorer prognosis. With respect to pregnancy after bca, there is, despite the bias in reported studies and meta-analyses, no clear evidence for a different or worse disease outcome in bca patients who become pregnant after treatment compared with those who do not.
Pregnancy-associated bca should be treated as aggressively as and according to the standards applicable in nonpregnant women; pregnancy after bca does not jeopardize outcome. The guidelines addressing risks connected to pregnancy and bca lack a high level of evidence for better counselling young women about pregnancy considerations and preventing unnecessary abortions. Ideally, evidence from large prospective randomized trials would set better guidelines, and yet the complexity of such studies limits their feasibility.