Do I still need to get breast exams during pregnancy?

Dr Christine Catling

Dr Christine Catling

Dr Christine Catling, a midwife for over 25 years, is the Director of Midwifery Studies at UTS. She believes research, innovation and good quality midwifery are pivotal to the well-being of mothers and young families. Christine has extensive experience in antenatal education, policy development and research, and has published on workforce issues, homebirth, vaginal birth...
Updated on Jun 14, 2024 · 2 mins read
Do I still need to get breast exams during pregnancy?

When you fall pregnant your breasts will change and grow rapidly and probably have you wondering are all these changes this normal? Most of the changes you’re going to experience will be, but it is important to check them regularly, especially when pregnant.

Why should you get breast exams while pregnant?

Unfortunately, becoming pregnant doesn’t shield you from health issues, and this includes breast cancer. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if your breasts are growing and changing due to pregnancy, or if it might be something else going on.

In this time of transition, it can be difficult figuring out what might be a symptom of breast cancer so it is important to get them checked.

The important thing to remember is that if you ever feel a small lump, don’t brush it off just because you are pregnant. Yes, it could be simply growth from pregnancy, but an exam could tell you if it is more serious. Even though it is rare, it’s important to be cautious

What will the exam be like?

Your GP will do a physical examination of your breasts and if they are concerned for any reason, they may send you for a mammogram.

They will look at your collarbone, underarm, and each breast to feel for anything abnormal.

While they are doing so, they will check for any painful or atypical areas. Overall, your doctor will inspect all areas around your breasts in search of any lumps or signs of discomfort.

What happens if I test positive?

If the test comes back positive, your doctor will create a plan for you based on the size and location of the tumour, how far along your pregnancy is, and the stage of your cancer.

Treatment will vary depending on your stage of pregnancy and diagnosis. Typically chemotherapy will not be used until the second trimester, while an operation should be conducted as early as possible. Treatments such as radiation or targeted therapy will cause damage to the baby, so they are usually not used during pregnancy. Ultimately, your doctors will create the right plan for you and your baby.

Going in for a breast exam while pregnant might be the last thing you ever expected to happen during pregnancy. It’s important to remain aware of your body and any possible changes that might cause concern. Do regular checks on yourself and if you notice anything abnormal in your breasts, reach out as soon as possible. It’s scary to consider, but facing any health problems is the first step to fixing them.

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