“It is important to use birth control, because chemotherapy can have harmful side effects to the fetus in the first trimester,” she said. “However, in the second and third trimester, we can use chemotherapy very successfully with minimal harm to the baby.
Diagnosis During Pregnancy Becoming More Common
According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, breast cancer associated with pregnancy is rare, but it does happen in about one in 3,500 pregnancies.
And current trends suggest that this rate could be on the rise.
“We are noticing that we are seeing more patients being diagnosed with breast cancer during pregnancy,” Perkins said.
The primary reason for this is that pregnant women, on average, are getting older. In 1982, the median age of a pregnant woman was 26.0 years; in 2002, this figure stood at 27.4 years.
“As the age at which child birth increases for women due to career goals and other reasons, we are expecting the incidence to increase,” Perkins said. “We receive several phone calls a month from women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and who are pregnant who have been told that overall they have an abysmal diagnosis.”