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Breastfeeding after Chemo- How long do I need to wait?

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  • Breastfeeding after Chemo- How long do I need to wait?

    I got diagnosed with breast cancer at 36 weeks pregnant, and we brought my daughter into the world at 37 weeks. The doctors had to perform a c-section so they waited a month before starting chemo. My daughter immediately went back to the breast after having to give her exclusively my expressed milk in a bottle for 24 hours after PET and MRI scans when she was 9 days old and 4 weeks old.

    Breastfeeding is very important to me so I've chosen to pump and dump throughout chemo to keep up my supply. My last chemo is 2 weeks from today and my oncologists have no clue how long the chemo will be in my breast milk. It seems there is not much research on this My last AC was Oct 27th, and my last Taxol is on Dec 22nd. Does anyone know of reliable research on how long I should wait to resume breastfeeding?

  • #2
    Hi, thanks for your post.

    "AC" is a combination of doxorubicin (Adriamycin) and cyclophosphamide. With all chemotherapeutic agents, we recommend waiting 7 half-lives after your last dose before resuming breastfeeding. 7 half-lives means 99% elimination of the drug from your body and your milk. In this case:

    doxorubicin half-life is variable but at most 36 hours x7 = 10.5 days
    cyclophosphamide half-life is 7.5 hours x 7 = 2 days
    paclitaxel (Taxol) half-life is 27 hours x 7 = 7.5 days

    Please call us at the InfantRisk Center if this has not completely answered your question.*(806)352-2519

    -James Abbey, MD


    • #3
      You need to wait minimum 4 to 6 weeks for removal of any chemical composition in body. My suggestion you should consult or take second opinion from oncologist.


      • #4
        Is it really specifically 4 to 6 weeks? My question is, will the breastfeeding patient still be monitored after completing the cycle? Monitored by means of a daily conversation with a practitioner, urgent check up if needed?


        • #5

          As so January 30th of this year, there is no evidence of disease. My cancer was triple negative, so I have a 20% chance of it coming back in my brain, bones, liver or lungs in the next 3 years, so I will still be closely monitered until I am 3 years NED.


          • #6

            Per the suggestion that you need 4-6 weeks for removal of any chemical substances in the body. This is untrue. I generally suggest with anticancer drugs, that mom wait at least 7 half-lives of the drug before returning to breastfeeding. This could be many weeks with some drugs, and just several days with other drugs. So just to be sure, please call the InfantRisk Center. My staff is well versed in these decisions and the kinetics of these many anticancer drugs.

            Tom Hale Ph.D.


            • #7

              Dr. Hale,

              So you disagree with the advice infant risk gave me on half lives?! Someone should have probably told me this earlier


              • #8
                Pink Warrior Mommy:

                No. It totally depends on which drugs you took. If one of them had a long half-life, then 4-6 weeks would have been appropriate. Its the way you stated above, "any chemical substances" in the body that I disagree with.

                Tom Hale Ph.D.