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Pregnancy Can Mean Delayed Breast Cancer Diagnosis

But overall survival is similar in women who are, or who are not diagnosed during pregnancy

FRIDAY, Feb. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Although pregnancy may conceal breast cancer in younger women and lead to a delay in diagnosis, evaluation and treatment, pregnancy-associated breast cancers are not associated with a worse outcome compared to non-pregnancy-associated breast cancers, according to research published online Feb. 9 in Cancer.

Beth M. Beadle, M.D., Ph.D., of The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and colleagues retrospectively reviewed breast cancer-related outcomes among women with pregnancy- and non-pregnancy-associated malignancies. A total of 652 women (aged 35 years or younger) were included, with a median follow-up of 114 months.

Compared to women with non-pregnancy-associated breast cancers, women with pregnancy-associated tumors did not significantly differ in their 10-year rates of locoregional recurrence (23.4 percent for women with pregnancy-associated tumors versus 19.2 percent for women with non-pregnancy-associated tumors), distant metastases (45.1 percent versus 38.9 percent) and overall survival (64.6 percent versus 64.8 percent), the researchers report. In pregnant women, any treatment intervention taken during pregnancy improved the trend for overall survival compared with delaying treatment until after delivery, the authors note.

"The education of patients and primary care physicians that breast symptoms during and immediately after pregnancy should be fully investigated will help hasten diagnosis and maximize treatment," Beadle and colleagues state.

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