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Breast Cancer Treatment and Pregnancy (PDQ®)

Other Considerations for Pregnancy and Breast Cancer


Suppression of lactation does not improve prognosis. If surgery is planned, however, lactation should be suppressed to decrease the size and vascularity of the breasts. If chemotherapy is to be given, lactation should also be suppressed because many antineoplastics (i.e., cyclophosphamide and methotrexate), when given systemically, may occur in high levels in breast milk and would affect the nursing baby. In general, women receiving chemotherapy should not breastfeed.

Fetal Consequences of Maternal Breast Cancer

No damaging effects on the fetus from maternal breast cancer have been demonstrated, and there are no reported cases of maternal-fetal transfer of breast cancer cells.

Consequences of Pregnancy in Patients with a History of Breast Cancer

Based on limited retrospective data, pregnancy does not appear to compromise the survival of women with a previous history of breast cancer, and no deleterious effects have been demonstrated in the fetus.[1-9] Some physicians recommend that patients wait 2 years after diagnoses before attempting to conceive. This allows early recurrence to become manifest, which may influence the decision to become a parent. Little is known about pregnancy after bone marrow transplantation and high-dose chemotherapy with or without total-body irradiation. In one report of pregnancies after bone marrow transplantation for hematologic disorders, a 25% incidence of preterm labor and low birth weight for gestational-age infants was noted.[10]


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  8. Gwyn K, Theriault R: Breast cancer during pregnancy. Oncology (Huntingt) 15 (1): 39-46; discussion 46, 49-51, 2001. [PUBMED Abstract]
  9. Rugo HS: Management of breast cancer diagnosed during pregnancy. Curr Treat Options Oncol 4 (2): 165-73, 2003. [PUBMED Abstract]
  10. Sanders JE, Hawley J, Levy W, et al.: Pregnancies following high-dose cyclophosphamide with or without high-dose busulfan or total-body irradiation and bone marrow transplantation. Blood 87 (7): 3045-52, 1996. [PUBMED Abstract]
  • Updated: September 2, 2014