Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers to complicate pregnancy. Up until recently, such diagnosis was almost invariably bound with an abortion with all its possible psychological and ethical consequences for the patient, her family, and treating physicians. Throughout the past few years, the considerable progress in medical knowledge and experience has allowed a radical change in the situation of this very special patient group. These days, women may continue with the pregnancy, yet at the same time be effectively and safely treated, in a very close adherence to standards applied in the treatment of non-pregnant patients. The diagnostics of breast cancer in pregnant patients largely meets the generally accepted standards of detecting and staging the disease, apart from a few exceptions mostly related to fetus safety. The differences concern e.g. the sentinel lymph node evaluation procedure and some imaging methods. Whether the patient qualifies for treatment as well as therapeutic decisions depend on the gestational age and the advancement of the disease, with some treatment procedures imperatively postponed until postpartum. Certain chemotherapy regimens have been proved safe during pregnancy, even though up until recently they were considered toxic and impossible to use (FAC, FEC, taxoids). It has also been shown that, unless obstetric indications for caesarean section exist, in most cases the pregnancy does not need to be terminated prematurely. No oncologic counter-indications for a vaginal delivery exist either. This paper aims to bring together and sum up the body of knowledge arising from the recent publications which have facilitated diagnostic and therapeutic standards to be followed in these infrequent, yet exceedingly complex, clinical situations.
Many young patients having undergone radical treatment of breast cancer start considering motherhood at some point. The desire to become a mother may appear within a differing period from the completion of cancer therapy, yet it seems that regardless of the period, it is almost inevitably accompanied by major-level anxiety and stress. The decision about whether to become pregnant turns out a very difficult one, due to numerous doubts, uncertainties, and myths that have been commonly accepted concerning the safety of pregnancy for the future mother (i.e. the risk of cancer recurrence while pregnant), the effect of the undergone chemotherapy on the fetus, and breastfeeding-related issues. At the moment the disease is diagnosed, it is extremely rare for a young woman to immediately look out into her future in terms other than mere survival chances. The shock and the fear which are bound with the diagnosis hardly allow to ponder on the woman’s functioning following the treatment, or on her chances to return to all social roles. In some patients the fear of cancer recurrence and of the potential inability to raise the child themselves is so grave, it never allows them to make the decision to become mothers. Psycho-oncologic counseling, therefore, may have crucial impact over the choices made by breast cancer survivors, and not only should it be made available while patients are still tackling the diagnosis and treatment, but well beyond that period, throughout the healing process and follow-up monitoring time. The recent reports from the past few years seem to clarify many doubts and uncertainties, and this paper brings together the most important results of the new research available.
The incidence of hematologic malignancies in pregnancy ranges from 1:1000–1:10 000, with the most common lymphomas (1:1000–1:6000), Hodgkin’s lymphoma in particular. This paper describes a case of Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosed in a 36-year-old pregnant woman. The coexistence of pregnancy renders both the diagnosis and treatment more difficult. The signs of the disease may overlap with the symptoms associated with physiological pregnancy. The diagnosis is based on histopathological examination of the lesioned lymph node. The use of imaging techniques such as computed tomography and positron emission tomography should be avoided. Magnetic resonance and chest X-ray are acceptable; and there are no limitations for the use of ultrasound imaging. It is suggested that chemotherapy be delayed until the second trimester. The ABVD regimen is a standard treatment. In the case of disease progression, pregnancy termination and treatment outside pregnancy should be considered. In the case of pregnancy continuation, BEACOPP regimen may be used with optional, complementary radiotherapy. Treatment results for Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosed during pregnancy do not seem worse compared with age-matched groups. The management of pregnant patients with hematologic cancer requires care provided by a multidisciplinary team. Therapeutic decisions must account for the wellbeing of both, the mother and the fetus. The birth should be scheduled between courses so as to avoid pancytopenia in the patient and the newborn. The incidence of hematologic malignancies during pregnancy is rare, therefore it seems reasonable to collect data in the international registry in order to allow for an objective assessment of epidemiology, risk factors and treatment options.