Breast Cancer in Pregnancy: A Devastating Choice

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Imagine you're newly pregnant, aglow with all the possibility and excitement that come with it. Then imagine that you're given the frightening news that you're also suffering from breast cancer. What would you do? How would you handle it?

Dr Sibylle Loibl said that although it was uncommon for breast cancer patients to be pregnant -- between two and three percent -- as women delay having children until later, it may become more widespread.

Their treatment should follow that of a non-pregnant woman as "closely as possible," say researchers, although in collaboration with specialists including an obstetrician.

What a horrible choice. Do you get the treatment? Or do you wait, knowing that each day you wait is another day the cancer grows?

According to the doctors, you get the treatment and you get it fast.

But the risk of birth defects and premature birth is not insignificant, according to this study.

Premature babies were found to be more common among those who did not receive chemotherapy, and the children of those who did tended to weigh a little more. The children of both groups were found to be at higher risk of congenital problems than the usual population.

It's an impossible question to answer, as much as we would love to say we know what we would do. Any thinking person knows that it's impossible to tell unless you're actually faced with that situation.

I watched my mother die of this terrible disease when I was 16 and I can say, unequivocally, that I wouldn't want to delay my treatment for anything. Except, of course, my children. There is nothing I wouldn't do for them. I love and adore them, but not just in a Precious Moments, Kumbaya kind of way. There is also an enormous biological component. We care about our children more than ourselves because they are ourselves. They carry our genes into future generations long after we're gone.

It's an impossible choice. Certainly if I had children already who were young and needed me, I would get the treatment. After all, no one knows better than I the consequences of early mother loss. But if it were my first? I have to think I would do whatever ensured my baby with the best chance of survival.

As I said, the question is nearly impossible to answer from the outside, but knowing what you know, what do you think you would do?

 

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1st trimester, emotions, is it normal, is it safe