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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Breast Cancer Treatment and Pregnancy (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - 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.

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Soy and Breast Cancer: What's the Link?

To be safe, Jennifer Mukai all but eliminated soy from her diet after being told she had breast cancer in May 2009. Being of Japanese descent and also health conscious, the Seattle interior designer says she was eating a lot of soy in various forms before her diagnosis. “I drank about three-quarters of a cup of soy milk in my coffee twice a day and ate tofu and edamame [soy beans] pretty regularly,” the 44-year-old tells WebMD. “I was also probably getting quite a bit of soy in the meat-substitute...

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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.[1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9] 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]


  1. Clark RM, Chua T: Breast cancer and pregnancy: the ultimate challenge. Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol) 1 (1): 11-8, 1989.
  2. Harvey JC, Rosen PP, Ashikari R, et al.: The effect of pregnancy on the prognosis of carcinoma of the breast following radical mastectomy. Surg Gynecol Obstet 153 (5): 723-5, 1981.
  3. Petrek JA: Pregnancy safety after breast cancer. Cancer 74 (1 Suppl): 528-31, 1994.
  4. von Schoultz E, Johansson H, Wilking N, et al.: Influence of prior and subsequent pregnancy on breast cancer prognosis. J Clin Oncol 13 (2): 430-4, 1995.
  5. Kroman N, Mouridsen HT: Prognostic influence of pregnancy before, around, and after diagnosis of breast cancer. Breast 12 (6): 516-21, 2003.
  6. Malamos NA, Stathopoulos GP, Keramopoulos A, et al.: Pregnancy and offspring after the appearance of breast cancer. Oncology 53 (6): 471-5, 1996 Nov-Dec.
  7. Gelber S, Coates AS, Goldhirsch A, et al.: Effect of pregnancy on overall survival after the diagnosis of early-stage breast cancer. J Clin Oncol 19 (6): 1671-5, 2001.
  8. Gwyn K, Theriault R: Breast cancer during pregnancy. Oncology (Huntingt) 15 (1): 39-46; discussion 46, 49-51, 2001.
  9. Rugo HS: Management of breast cancer diagnosed during pregnancy. Curr Treat Options Oncol 4 (2): 165-73, 2003.
  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.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: 8/, 015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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