Can you get breast cancer if you’re under 40? Is it safe to have a baby after breast cancer? Two breast cancer docs answer YOUR questions!
When Giuliana Rancic went public with her breast cancer on Monday, October 17, on The Today Show, she wanted to help YOU. She was just 36 when she got a mammogram that detected her early stage breast cancer. So do you need a mammogram if there’s no history of breast cancer in your family like Giuliana?
The answer is “yes, if you’re trying to get pregnant after the age of 36,” explains Dr. Alison Goldfarb, an assistant clinical professor at Mount Sinai Medical Center in NYC. “Generally you would have your first mammogram at 40 unless you have a history of breast cancer in your family. In that case, we like to do a mammogram when you’re ten years younger than the youngest breast cancer victim in your family.”
So is there more breast cancer in women under 40 today than there used to be? It seems that way with celebrities like Christina Applegate struck 36 and singer Kylie Minogue at 36 as well.
“It does look like it’s becoming more common,” says Dr. Goldfarb. “It’s hard to understand why- if it’s environmental because our immune systems aren’t as strong as they used to be because we don’t get infections like we used to. We’re given antibiotics.”
Now, is it true that breast cancer in women under 40 is more aggressive?
“Every case is individual so you can’t generalize,” insists Dr. Goldfarb.
As for whether Giuliana Rancic was right to stop her fertility treatment once she was diagnosed with breast cancer – gynecologist and fertility expert, Dr. David Ghozland, M.D. says yes!
“Being pregnant does hyper-stimulate breast cancer cells, which is why I don’t let any of my patients who have breast cancer get pregnant,” he says. “Once I get full approval from their breast oncologist then I will go ahead and allow my patients to get pregnant.”
And yes, you can get pregnant after breast cancer treatment, though Dr. Goldfarb likes patients to wait a year or two after treatment is completed.
Dr. Ghozland has a patient however who happily became pregnant, a year after a lumpectomy. And guess what: you may even be able to still breast feed ,with the breast that did not have radiation!
In any case, do NOT be afraid to do a monthly breast self examination or to get a mammogram if you should. Early detection is always better.
Says Dr. Ghozland: “Breast cancer is of course serious, but in most cases it is treatable if detected early enough, as is the case with Giuliana Rancic.”
Reporting by Sandra Clark
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