Breast Cancer and Pregnancy - 8 News NOW

Paula Francis, Anchor

Breast Cancer and Pregnancy

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Breast cancer by itself is a frightening and emotional experience. But add pregnancy to the equation, and the decisions become even more difficult. It's a situation that's becoming more common as women are waiting longer to have children.

Alan Dimich and his wife Karla were in their first year of marriage when doctors discovered Karla had breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy, but the cancer returned. Then came another surprise.

"When she told me she was pregnant, it was a mixed emotion. It was a blessing, a big blessing in disguise. But we were a little bit scared at the same time," said Dimich.

The couple faced a crucial dilemma. How would pregnancy affect the cancer? And how would the cancer and chemotherapy affect the baby? There are many uncertainties.

"Both oncologists at the time said you have to terminate. That's it. We don't know what are the effects of chemo, what can happen," said Dimich.

After encouragement from Karla's obstetrician, the couple decided to continue the pregnancy. Three months ago, their little girl, Ava was born seven weeks premature. She's still in the hospital, but is expected to be fine.

Karla, however, has since lost her battle with breast cancer.

"The unfortunate thing is, I have to go on without her, in raising my daughter. But I'm extremely happy that she got to experience motherhood," he said.

Las Vegas obstetrician-gynecologist, Joey Adashek specializes in complicated pregnancies. He says changes due to cancer may affect the baby, but not the cancer itself.

"Cancer can not cross the placenta, especially breast cancer, and affect the baby," said Dr. Adashek.

Because there are so many individual variables surrounding breast cancer and pregnancy, experts find it difficult to study. There is evidence that increased hormone levels associated with pregnancy, may prompt the cancer to spread faster.

At the same time, Dr. Adachek says many patients, and their baby, manage to pull through. "There are many chemotherapy agents that are safe in pregnancy."

Breast cancer occurs about once in every 3,000 pregnancies, usually among women between ages 32 and 38. For more information, click here.

Also, the Southern Nevada Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure will celebrate local breast cancer survivors and co-survivors at its First Annual Survivor Celebration Luncheon.  The event will feature Kelly Corrigan, author of "The Middle Place," who will share the story of her battle with breast cancer and a guest speaker from the National Susan G.Komen for the Cure's office who will address survivorship concerns and life after breast cancer.

The luncheon will be held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel.  Check-in begins at 10am and the event begins at 11am.  Tickets are $30 per person in advance and include lunch and a special gift for survivors. Tickets are on sale now at the Rio box office or by calling 702-777-7776.  Please call the Komen office at 702-822-2324 for additional information.

Email your comments to Anchor Paula Francis.
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