Treatment for Two: Breast Cancer during Pregnancy

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Wonderful news followed by gut-wrenching choices. These days, more women are being diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age. (KFSN)

Wonderful news followed by gut-wrenching choices. These days, more women are being diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age. Eleven percent of all new breast cancer cases are in women under 45. As a result for some patients, pregnancy and cancer come at the same time. Thankfully, there are treatment options that keep mom and baby healthy until delivery and after.

For Sarah and Thomas Phares, the best end to a long day is time with baby Ruby and big sister Hazel.

Last year, doctors determined a lump in Phares's breast was cancer. She was 28 and eight weeks pregnant with her second child.

"With me being in my first trimester everyone suggested terminating the pregnancy and that wasn't something I was willing to do," Phares shared.

Michael Naughton, MD, a medical oncologist at Washington University in St. Louis, said it is possible to cure cancer and have a healthy baby.

Dr. Naughton said "Beyond the first trimester we really can offer many of our standard treatment options including chemotherapy and surgery."

Dr. Naughton prescribed two drugs: Cytoxan and Adriamycin for six rounds of chemo. He explained "We focus on drugs that have a reasonably proven track record of not being adverse for the baby."

At 34 weeks, doctors induced Phares. Little ruby was small, four pounds, 12 ounces, but otherwise born healthy.

Phares told Ivanhoe "Two weeks after I delivered, I went in and had a double mastectomy with reconstructive surgery." Phares is getting stronger every day, and so far she's cancer-free.

"I feel great. I'm running after my two little girls, and I couldn't ask for anything more," Phares said happily.

Phares will continue with another chemotherapy drug (Herceptin) until October to ensure the cancer does not return.

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