Supporting women with breast cancer during pregnancy
While offering specialist support, Breast Cancer Now is continuing to share the breast awareness message
Breast cancer is the UK's most common cancer, with around 55 000 women and 370 men being diagnosed each year (an average total of UK invasive breast cancer cases between 2014–2016 were recorded at 55 214) (Breast Cancer Now, 2020). Around 10 000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 50 every year in the UK (Cancer Research UK, 2017) and being diagnosed during pregnancy or soon after giving birth is rare, with the disease reported in just 1 in every 3 000 pregnancies (Cancer Research UK, 2017).
Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis at this usually happy time can be extremely distressing and can take away the joy of pregnancy. It can cause sadness and anxiety about the baby's development in the womb and fears about not seeing the child grow up. Also, with relatively few women diagnosed while pregnant or soon after, people can often feel incredibly isolated and alone. Being pregnant or caring for a newborn while having treatment for breast cancer is both physically and emotionally draining, and may mean some women find it difficult to bond with their baby. It can sometimes feel that there is nowhere to turn which is why access to information and support at this time is crucial.
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