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Two Lives Intertwined: Pregnancy-Associated Breast Cancer

Kathy L. Czaplicki
CJON 2012, 16(5), E183-E189 DOI: 10.1188/12.CJON.E183-E189

The incidence of concurrent breast cancer and pregnancy (also known as pregnancy-associated breast cancer [PABC]) may increase as women delay child bearing. Because of the physiologic changes associated with pregnancy, diagnosis often is delayed, lending to poorer prognostic factors on presentation. Therefore, the clinical challenge in managing PABC involves controlling the cancer while maximizing survival outcomes for the expectant mother without compromising the health and safety of the fetus. Collaboration and communication between multidisciplinary team members are crucial. Education is key in providing a general overview of available diagnostic modalities, endorsing the multidisciplinary approach to care and treatment for the mother and fetus, and identifying the oncology nursing role specific to this patient population. Women with PABC must be kept informed of all aspects of care to ensure active participation in the decision-making process, as they are not only concerned for their own well-being but also that of their unborn child. Anxiety levels often run high and steady communication offers a modicum of control to this already-stressed patient population.

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