The following article features coverage from the American Society of Hematology (ASH) 2018 meeting. Click here to read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor‘s conference coverage.

Quality of life (QOL) for patients with breast cancer diagnosed during pregnancy is lower than that of nonpregnant patients with breast cancer, according to a study presented at the 2018 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

The study evaluated the quality of life of 21 pregnant women with breast cancer diagnosed between 2000-2016, using the EORTC QLQ-C30, the EORTC QLQ-BR 45, and the EORTC SHQ-22 questionnaires. Breast cancer was diagnosed in 16 of the patients during their pregnancy at a mean of 21.14 weeks, and in 5 patients during the first year post delivery. All the patients underwent surgery and chemotherapy, with 10 patients receiving hormonal therapy and 12 radiation therapy. 

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There were no significant differences between pregnant patients and a reference breast cancer population at a follow-up period of 5.2 years using the EORTC QLQ C30 questionnaire. However, pregnant patients reported more clinically relevant financial difficulties. 

According to a disease specific questionnaire (EORTC BC 45) pregnant patients with breast cancer had significantly lower scores for body image, upset by hair loss, side effects of the systemic therapy, and future perspective. Approximately 40% of patients had decreased libido, 37% had impaired sexual activity, and 25% reported feeling less feminine because of the disease. 

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“Despite the small number of patients, the results indicate that [pregnant breast cancer] patients are a vulnerable group, especially regarding outer appearance,” wrote the authors. They also noted the EORTC QLQ BR 45 questionnaire was more effective at assessing the quality of life of these patients than the EORTC QLQ 30 questionnaire, suggesting the importance of using disease-specific questionnaires to appropriately assess the quality of life in specific populations. 


Bjelic-Radisic V, Hartmann B, Reisinger J, et al.Quality of life of patients with pregnancy- associated breast cancer. Poster presentation at: 2018 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium; December 4-8, 2018; San Antonio, TX. Abstract P1-12-19.