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Is Pregnancy Safe for Women Who Have Survived Breast Cancer?

Pregnancy After Surviving Breast Cancer

There is no doubt how tiring the concept of pregnancy after a breast cancer diagnosis can be. Many patients are concerned about the impact of pregnancy and its risk to the baby.

The cancer is mostly driven by hormones and pregnancy only enhances their levels. So, a survivor will rightfully worry about the recurrence of this cancer.

This worry is mostly about the health of the baby as well as cancer recurrence. Women are naturally anxious about the effects and safety of any treatment they go under for any sort of cancer on their fertility. Such thoughts and questions are understandable.

However new research published on the JAMA Network Open has revealed a desirable result.

Key points of the Study:

  • A recent review analyzed the effects of cytotoxic agents on fertility rates in breast cancer survivors carrying the BRCA mutation.
  • It examines strategies for preserving fertility in these individuals to enable future pregnancy opportunities.
  • They conclude that there is no harmful effect on both the mother and the baby after pregnancy.
  • The study also reassures women who wish to become pregnant that the hormonal spikes during pregnancy do not have any impact on breast cancer recurrence.
  • But they also stress the need for planning and oncofertility counseling before initiating the cytotoxic treatment for breast cancer.

“Getting pregnant after breast cancer treatment seems safe for both mom and baby, especially for women with BRCA gene mutations.

However, it is important to consider your individual needs first.

Talking to a specialist about your fertility options and ways to preserve your fertility is crucial before starting cancer treatment with strong medications”


Breast Cancer And Pregnancy:

Occasionally, breast cancer is diagnosed during pregnancy. This is a difficult situation for the mother, the fetus, the family members, as well as for the treating physician.

Although breast cancer does not harm the fetus, there are certain risks associated with it:

  • Women with breast cancer during pregnancy can not receive certain chemotherapeutic drugs such as trastuzumab (Herceptin) or hormonal therapy.
  • Radiation is contraindicated too, especially during the first trimester.
  • Investigations to find the degree of spread to distant parts are limited as CT scans and X-rays are contraindicated during pregnancy.
  • Women can not lactate their child after birth (because of the harmful effects of chemotherapy on the child as well as because of the diseased breast tissue).
  • Lastly, pregnancy has no direct effect on survival in women with breast cancer. However, breast cancer diagnosis is usually delayed in pregnant women which can indirectly affect survival.

What are the 5 Warning Signs of Breast Cancer?

There are more than just five signs but the top most common signs of cancer in the breast region are as follows:

  • New lump or mass:

Feeling something new forming in a breast like a lump can be a sign particularly if that lump has not disappeared over time. Nevertheless, not all lumps are cancerous, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get it checked.

  • Breast or nipple changes:

Also if your breasts appear to have changed shapes or you feel any alterations then be careful. These changes can be like swelling of a certain region or dimpling of the skin. It can also resemble an orange peel with a change in size.

  • Nipple discharge:

If you are not lactating then any sort of discharge from the breasts except breast milk including blood warrants a visit to your nearest hospital.

  • Nipple retraction or changes: 

Changes in the nipple’s appearance, turning inward, or the skin texture, color of the nipple like redness, dryness, flaking, thickening.

  • Swollen lymph nodes:

If the cancer has reached other regions then you will notice swollen lymph nodes under your arms or near the collarbone.

Early detection is critical for effective breast cancer treatment. If you experience any of these warning signs, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with your doctor for a checkup. 

Remember,  a doctor can perform a breast exam and recommend further tests like mammograms or ultrasounds to determine the cause of the changes.


What does breast cancer pain feel like?

The cancer has no pain indications. This is due to lumps, as they are mostly cancerous and do not induce any pain.

However, there are some exceptions:

  • Inflammatory breast cancer:

A rather rare form of this cancer where your breasts can become red, itchy, tender, and swollen. It can feel like a burning or aching sensation.

  • Paget’s disease:

Another less common form, it mostly affects your nipple and areola. It also causes swelling with tenderness, burning, and soreness in the affected area.

Remember that pain is not a reliable indicator of cancer in the breast area.


When to see a doctor

Since pain is out of the equation here is what you can do to make sure it is an emergency. Look for any modification in the breast size, are there any lumps, is it dimpling?

Do you see a nipple folded inward? In such cases, you should book an appointment and consult a physician. Notably early detection is quite necessary for the treatment.

Discuss all your concerns and ask about therapies that can spare fertility even though new research confirms that pregnancy will remain unaffected by breast cancer.

Additional tips:

Breast self-exams

If this cancer is detected at its earliest stage, the treatment will be much more effective. This is why conducting a breast self-exam can increase your chances of a successful therapy.

There is no single right way to conduct a BSE, but following a systematic pattern can help ensure that you cover all bases.

You can move your fingers in concentric circles, vertical lines, and wedges. Avoid squeezing or pinching your breasts too tightly, as this can cause temporary changes that may be misinterpreted.


What do you think?

Written by Dr. Ahmed

I am Dr. Ahmed (MBBS; FCPS Medicine), an Internist and a practicing physician. I am in the medical field for over fifteen years working in one of the busiest hospitals and writing medical posts for over 5 years.

I love my family, my profession, my blog, nature, hiking, and simple life. Read more about me, my family, and my qualifications

Here is a link to My Facebook Page. You can also contact me by email at or at My Twitter Account
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