Breast Cancer and Pregnancy - 8 News NOW

Paula Francis, Anchor

Breast Cancer and Pregnancy

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The tranquility garden at St. Rose Dominican Hospital provides comfort for patients and survivors like Amy Shadd. The tranquility garden at St. Rose Dominican Hospital provides comfort for patients and survivors like Amy Shadd.
Amy Shadd was just 30 and engaged to be married when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Amy Shadd was just 30 and engaged to be married when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Breast cancer can occur in a woman at any age. And sometimes the diagnosis precedes pregnancy, adding many concerns to an already difficult situation. The Eye on Health team spoke with a local specialist about the effects of breast cancer treatment on the outcome of a pregnancy.

The tranquility garden at St. Rose Dominican Hospital provides comfort for patients and survivors like Amy Shadd. She was just 30 and engaged to be married when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"My mother had been through it. So I wasn't completely ignorant of it. I had a lot of knowledge about the disease and about the treatments and everything like that. But obviously, I wasn't expecting it at my age. So yeah, it was definitely a surprise," Amy said. 

Amy's chemotherapy concluded in July of 2002. Fortunately, her fertility was unaffected and she conceived her first child in February 2003. The couple had a healthy baby boy and went on to have a second child.

Las Vegas oncologist, Mary-Ann Allison says women who have babies after breast cancer treatment normally do just as well as women who've not had cancer.

Dr. Allison says, "It has been shown that women who become pregnant after breast cancer do very well. And the babies do very well. And we have yet to find problems in the children that are born in these circumstances."

If a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer while she's pregnant, treatment can begin right away, as long as the pregnancy is at least three months along. But Dr. Allison says that during the first trimester there is a high risk of chemotherapy causing harm to the fetus.

"So, that's going to be a certain period of time that there's a delay. So, if you had someone for instance that they found out they had breast cancer and found out they were pregnant at that same time, you're going to have that first trimester time to wait which is an issue," Dr. Allison explained.

This coming April will mark five years since Amy was diagnosed, and a lot has changed in that time.

"That's right. I've got two active boys and I'm feeling great," Amy exclaimed.

Dr. Allison adds that a breast cancer diagnosis during pregnancy is rare and research opportunities are therefore limited. But it does appear that breast-cancer-cells do not pass from the mother to the fetus.

You can learn more about pregnancy and cancer, visit the National Cancer Institute's Web site and type "breast cancer pregnancy" in the search box.

Find out how to get a free Buddy Check 8 kit. The kit includes calendar stickers to remind you when to do a breast self exam along with a shower card that shows you how.

Send your comments to Anchor Paula Francis at pfrancis@klastv.com

Send your comments to Medical Producer Rick Andrews at randrews@klastv.com

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