Ultrasound provides a safe and accurate method of detecting breast cancers in pregnant women, as well as assessing response to chemotherapy, according to a study appearing in the April issue of Radiology. Investigators at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston recently studied the largest group of women to date who were both diagnosed and treated for breast cancer during pregnancy.
"Ultrasound identified 100 percent of cancers in our study, and mammography demonstrated 90 percent," said Wei T. Yang, M.D., chief investigator of the study and associate professor of diagnostic radiology at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Breast Imaging Section. "We want young women to know that symptomatic breast cancer that occurs during pregnancy can be imaged, diagnosed and treated while pregnant, so they should not wait to seek medical attention if they start to have suspicious symptoms."
Hormonal changes during pregnancy and lactation create an increase in breast volume and firmness, making detection of breast masses difficult. Additionally, the need for immediate investigation and treatment in these cases is complicated by safety concerns for a developing fetus.
Heather Babiar | EurekAlert!
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