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Breast cancer screening in BRCA1/2 pathogenic sequence variant carriers during pregnancy and lactation.

Clinical Imaging 2024 May 11
OBJECTIVES: Women harboring germline BRCA1/BRCA2 pathogenic sequence variants (PSVs) are at an increased risk for breast cancer. There are no established guidelines for screening during pregnancy and lactation in BRCA carriers. The aim of this study was to evaluate the utility of whole-breast ultrasound (US) screening in pregnant and lactating BRCA PSV carriers.

METHODS: Data were retrospectively collected from medical records of BRCA PSV carriers between 2014 and 2020, with follow-up until 2021. Associations between imaging intervals, number of examinations performed and pregnancy-associated breast cancers (PABCs) were examined. PABCs and cancers diagnosed at follow-up were evaluated and characteristics were compared between the two groups.

RESULTS: Overall 212 BRCA PSV carriers were included. Mean age was 33.6 years (SD 3.93, range 25-43 years). During 274 screening periods at pregnancy and lactation, eight (2.9 %) PABCs were diagnosed. An additional eight cancers were diagnosed at follow-up. Three out of eight (37.5 %) PABCs were diagnosed by US, whereas clinical breast examination (n = 3), mammography (n = 1) and MRI (n = 1) accounted for the other PACB diagnoses. One PABC was missed by US. The interval from negative imaging to cancer diagnosis was significantly shorter for PABCs compared with cancers diagnosed at follow-up (3.96 ± 2.14 vs. 11.2 ± 4.46 months, P = 0.002).

CONCLUSION: In conclusion, pregnant BRCA PSV carriers should not delay screening despite challenges like altered breast tissue and hesitancy towards mammography. If no alternatives exist, whole-breast ultrasound can be used. For lactating and postpartum women, a regular screening routine alternating between mammography and MRI is recommended.

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