Breast cancer during pregnancy

If you develop breast cancer during pregnancy the treatment you are offered will depend on the type and extent of your breast cancer, the trimester of your pregnancy when the cancer is diagnosed and your individual circumstances.

Each trimester of pregnancy represents a number of weeks:

  • First trimester – from conception to 12 weeks
  • Second trimester – 13-28 weeks
  • Third trimester – from 28 weeks to delivery

Effective treatment for breast cancer can be given during pregnancy without affecting the baby. You cannot pass cancer on to your baby and there is no evidence that having breast cancer during pregnancy affects your baby’s development in any way. Your treatment team will include an obstetrician (a pregnancy and childbirth doctor) as well as your breast cancer specialist.

Breast cancer is normally diagnosed by triple assessment carried out at a specialist breast clinic.

Continuing your pregnancy

Terminating the pregnancy isn’t usually recommended when breast cancer is diagnosed. Most women will be able to carry on with their pregnancy while having breast cancer treatment. However, some women choose not to. The decision to terminate a pregnancy is a very personal one and you should discuss this with your partner (if you have one), your specialist team and obstetrician.

There’s no evidence to suggest that a termination will improve the outcome for women diagnosed with breast cancer during pregnancy. However, termination may be discussed if chemotherapy is recommended during the first trimester.

Whatever you decide, it’s important to make the right choice for you.

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