Breast cancer can occur at any time, including during pregnancy. It's the most common form of cancer in pregnancy, affecting approximately one in 3,000 women.
Pregnancy itself does not cause breast cancer, and breast cancer does not spread to the developing fetus.
Due to changing hormones during pregnancy, breast cancer is often found at a later stage in pregnant women.
Although breast cancer treatment during pregnancy is possible, it's more complex due to the possible effects to the developing baby.
Any type of breast cancer can occur during pregnancy, including:
Pregnancy is associated with a specific set of risks for breast cancer, including:
Learn more about the High-Risk Breast Cancer Program at Magee.
Talk to your doctor if you notice any of the following symptoms:
Because excessive radiation exposure, maternal anesthesia, or other diagnostic or therapeutic approaches may harm a developing baby, you and your doctor will need to discuss risk factors and possible outcomes in detail.
Some procedures may not be appropriate during pregnancy.
Experts at the Magee-Womens Breast Cancer Program use a variety of tests and procedures to diagnose and screen for breast cancer, including:
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Mammogram with computer-aided detection (CAD)
3D mammogram (tomosynthesis)
Minimally invasive breast biopsy
If you're diagnosed with breast cancer associated with pregnancy, treatment will depend upon many variables:
Your doctors and other specialists at the Magee-Womens Breast Cancer Program will work with you to discuss risk factors, consider your options, and determine a course of action.
Surgery is often the primary treatment for breast cancer.
In many cases, we may also recommend additional therapies before (neo adjuvant) or after (adjuvant) surgery to control an aggressive cancer or to reduce the risk of recurrence. We do not recommend radiation therapy for pregnant women, due to the potential harm to the fetus.
Procedures and treatments for breast cancer may include:
As soon as you know you are pregnant, ask your doctor or nurse to teach you how to perform a breast exam on yourself. Each prenatal visit should also include a breast exam.
View screening recommendations for women without symptoms or a family history of breast cancer.
Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by
A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.
For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.
UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.
Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.
For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com