Pregnancy- and lactation-associated breast cancer: Mammographic and sonographic findings

Bo Young Ahn, Hak Hee Kim, Woo Kyung Moon, Etta D. Pisano, Hyeon Sook Kim, Eun Suk Cha, Jeung Sook Kim, Ki Keun Oh, Seog Hee Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


Objective. To evaluate the mammographic and sonographic findings of pregnancy-associated breast cancer. Methods. A total of 22 consecutive patients with breast cancer pathologically diagnosed during pregnancy (n = 10) or lactation (n = 12) were included in this study. The ages of the patients ranged from 26 to 49 years. Both mammography and sonography were performed on 12 patients; sonography only was performed on 7 patients; and mammography only was performed on 3 patients. Mammographic and sonographic findings were evaluated retrospectively. Results. Mammography revealed positive findings in 13 (86.7%) of 15 patients, even though all 15 patients had dense breasts. Mammographic findings included masses (n = 5), masses with calcifications (n = 2), calcifications with axillary lymphadenopathy (n = 2), a mass with axillary lymphadenopathy (n = 1), calcifications alone (n = 1), asymmetric density alone (n = 1), and diffuse skin and trabecular thickening alone (n = 1). Sonographic findings were positive and showed masses for all 19 patients (100%). The common sonographic findings of masses were irregular shapes (n = 15), irregular margins (n = 16), parallel orientation (n = 11), complex echo patterns (n = 14, including marked cystic [anechoic] components [n = 4]), and posterior acoustic enhancement (n = 12). Surrounding tissue effects could be seen in 5 patients, including ductal changes (n = 2), Cooper ligament thickening (n = 1), edema (n = 3), and skin thickening (n = 3). Calcifications within or outside a mass (n = 7) and axillary lymphadenopathy (n = 8) were also detected. Conclusions. Although a mass could not be discernible by mammography because of increased radiodensity during pregnancy or lactation, calcification, asymmetric density, axillary lymphadenopathy, and skin and trabecular thickening were helpful for diagnosis of pregnancy-associated breast cancer. Sonographic findings of a solid mass with posterior acoustic enhancement and a marked cystic component were somewhat different from the appearance of breast cancer in nonpregnant women, possibly because of the physiologic changes of pregnancy and lactation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-497
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Ultrasound in Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2003


  • Breast
  • Breast neoplasms, diagnosis
  • Breast neoplasms, sonographic diagnosis
  • Breast radiography
  • Pregnancy-associated breast cancer


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