Breast Cancer and Pregnancy

Women conceiving earlier in their lives are fairly immune to contracting breast cancer. However with the advancement of age, breast cancer can inevitably set in during pregnancy.

Pregnancy brings about numerous hormonal changes in the body of expectant mother. Pregnancy puts a stop on the monthly menstrual cycles and causes the hormonal balance to shift towards progesterone as against estrogen. Hormones such as estrogen promote the growth and division of breast cells.

An imbalance in it can trigger the growth of cancer cells which keep on making newer, abnormal cells. Women who are exposed to enhanced levels of estrogen over prolonged period of time tend to contract breast cancer more easily than others.

Women with significantly higher menstrual periods like those whose menstruation starts prior to twelve years of age or those who go through menopause after fifty five years of age fall in this category. Ladies whose first pregnancy comes after thirty years tend to easier prey to breast cancer in later part of their lives.

In the event of an expectant mother developing breast cancer, the same is diagnosed customarily at a later stage compared to a normal woman. The cancer by then spreads to the lymph nodes. This happens partially due to the fact that while pregnant, the woman’s breasts become larger, lumpy and tender due to hormonal changes. This makes it difficult for the breast lumps to be detected unless it assumes larger dimension.

Mammograms too are difficult to decode by doctors owing to the increase in density of breast tissues during pregnancy. Pregnancy also gives a wrong impression of the early cancerous changes that takes place within the breast by wrongly associating it with changes that are usual while conceiving.

Some patients are apprehensive of going through mammogram test during pregnancy. They are worried about the radiation emission from the safety point of view. However, the radiation emanation is fairly small and it is directed towards the breast only and rarely has any adverse impact on the tissues of other parts of the body. A lead shield may serve as an added protection to save the lower parts of abdomen from exposure to radiation. Small dosage of radiation has no significant health impact on the unborn baby.

During pregnancy, breast healthy essentially calls for an early detection of symptoms of breast cancer. Women in their 30s and 40s should inevitably consult a health practitioner in case any lump is spotted in the breast region.