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Breast Cancer Can Be Treated During Pregnancy

Mothers and infants can both do well, researcher reports

MONDAY, June 26 (HealthDay News) -- Treatment of breast cancer diagnosed during pregnancy can result in good outcomes in women and infants, reported Richard Theriault, D.O., a professor of medicine at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, at an American Medical Association cancer briefing in New York.

Theriault and colleagues followed 57 women diagnosed with cancer during pregnancy. Between 85 percent and 90 percent had invasive ductal cancers; 65 percent were estrogen-receptor negative; 81 percent were progesterone-receptor negative and 11 percent had HER-2 oncogene overexpression.

Most women were diagnosed at stage II or III and had mastectomies, although breast-conserving surgery is an option for some, Theriault said. Chemotherapy began at a median of 23 weeks, and included fluorouracil (1,000 mg/m2), doxorubicin (50 mg/m2), and cyclophosphamide (500 mg/m2), administered every three to four weeks after the first trimester. Radiation, if needed, was postponed until after the delivery. "We usually try to time our chemotherapy so the last cycle will end three weeks before delivery," Theriault said. "We try to avoid the potential for low white blood cell count, low platelet counts or anemia."

Deliveries occurred between 37 and 42 weeks and mean birth weight was 6.4 pounds. Fifty-seven percent of the women had a vaginal delivery and 63 percent of infants had no neonatal complications. "Among the mothers, 75 percent are alive without breast cancer recurrence," Theriault said. "We have 64 consecutive live births with no stillborns," he said. "The outcomes are not different from other high-risk groups."

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