Pregnancy-Associated Breast Cancer

Kathleen Logue, RNC-OB, BSN


Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2009;13(1):25-27. 

In This Article

Oncology Nursing Implications

Nurses caring for pregnant women must educate themselves and their patients about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. A thorough examination should be completed on the first prenatal visit before physiologic changes to the breast occur. Nurses should review the expected changes with patients of any age and encourage them to report any unusual lumps or nipple discharge. Evaluation of breast masses or discharges should not be postponed until after delivery. Nurses often are patients' main source of information within the health-care system; therefore, nurses should be able to assist patients or refer them to someone who can answer their questions. A breast cancer diagnosis during pregnancy can be particularly distressing, and patients may have difficulty coping with the range of emotions. Nurses should evaluate those patients' psychosocial needs and encourage professional help when necessary (Rimes, Gano, & Milbourne, 2008).

PABC is rare, but an increase in incidence is expected as more women delay childbirth (Psyrri & Burtness, 2005). Caring for a pregnant woman with breast cancer presents many challenges for nurses. Pregnant women with PABC require a personalized approach to manage their treatment, and careful consideration for the mother and fetus is needed. Additional studies of the effects of pregnancy on breast cancer are needed to determine the most effective treatment plan. Working as a multidisciplinary team will help achieve the best possible outcomes for mothers and their babies (Gwyn, 2005).


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