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Report backs breast cancer treatment while women are pregnant

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Treatment for breast cancer does not need to be restricted when cases involve pregnant women, a new report claims.

The report, published in The Lancet medical journal, says that pregnant women may be able to undergo surgery or chemotherapy and still deliver babies at full-term.

It says that surgery is generally safe at any time during the pregnancy while chemotherapy could be safely given in the second and third trimesters.

The authors argue that by treating women during pregnancy it will reduce the need to deliver the baby early, which is a major concern in managing women with breast cancer.

The research also rejected the option of termination, as it did not find any evidence that it improves the woman’s chance of surviving the disease. Figures show that between 1991 and 1997 there were 1.3 to 2.4 cases of breast cancer in women per 10,000 live births. But the number jumps when just considering women aged 30 or under, when up to a fifth (10%-20%) of cases are in pregnancy or the first year after giving birth.

The report highlights that breast cancer is often diagnosed at a later date in women who are pregnant, as it is harder to recognise symptoms of the disease while the body is undergoing the usual changes associated with having a baby, such as an increased breast size.

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