Designed and created by Guideline Central in participation with the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine
Breast Cancer and Breastfeeding
Patient Guideline Summary
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Last Updated: March 3, 2023
This patient summary means to discuss key recommendations from the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine for Breast Cancer and Breastfeeding.
- Breast cancer can occur in conjunction with pregnancy.
- This patient summary focuses on minimizing the adverse effects of breastfeeding from breast cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment.
- Your risk for breast cancer and the duration of planned breastfeeding will determine whether you wish to proceed with your usual screening schedule or postpone screening until you wean your child.
- Screening studies are safe during lactation.
- Emptying your breasts of milk before the examination provides a more accurate study.
- You can continue breastfeeding during most additional diagnostic studies.
- During the brief interruption for nuclear studies, expressed milk is safe for your child.
- If you have already been treated for breast cancer, milk production may be diminished, so it should be monitored closely to assure your child is receiving adequate nutrition.
- If you are diagnosed with breast cancer when pregnant, milk production may be affected by treatment.
- Breastfeeding should be discontinued during hormonal or chemotherapy.
- Chemotherapy agents require differing waiting periods before resuming breastfeeding. These run between one and ten days.
- Ongoing treatment with follow-up imaging studies may continue for years. Periodic or continuing avoidance of breastfeeding may be required.
- During some brief interruptions, expressed milk can be fed to your child.
- Cabergoline and other medicines can comfortably stop milk production.
- Donor breast milk is available.
- Breast cancer within 5 years of pregnancy tends to be more aggressive and thus requires more intense follow-up than other kinds of breast cancer.
- Throughout your treatment experts are available to inform and guide you.
Johnson HM, Mitchell KB; Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. ABM Clinical Protocol #34: Breast Cancer and Breastfeeding. Breastfeed Med. 2020 Jul;15(7):429-434. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2020.29157.hmj. Epub 2020 Jun 9. PMID: 32516007.
The information in this patient summary should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.