Management of breast cancer during pregnancy


Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, St John's Hospital, Wood Street, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 9BG, UK Email:


Key content

  • Delays in childbearing trends are likely to lead to an increase in breast cancer cases diagnosed during pregnancy.
  • Presentation is usually late because early diagnosis is more difficult.
  • Surgery is safe throughout pregnancy, whilst radiotherapy and chemotherapy should be administered after completion of the first trimester.
  • Breast cancer in pregnancy does not carry any significant obstetrical or perinatal risks.
  • Termination of pregnancy does not affect maternal prognosis.

Learning objectives

  • To understand the role of diagnostic and staging procedures.
  • To understand the various treatment modalities available.
  • To understand the obstetric management and timing of delivery.
  • To highlight the importance of the multidisciplinary team.

Ethical issues

  • At what gestation could termination of pregnancy be warranted?
  • When should women embark on a further pregnancy after breast cancer treatment?

Please cite this article as: Padmagirison R, Gajjar K, Spencer C. Management of breast cancer during pregnancy. The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist 2010;12:186–192.