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Monday, September 1, 2014
Breastfeeding and radiation treatment
I have been diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant and I am going to be going through raidation treatment after the baby is born.
Is it safe to breastfeed on the treated breast? Is is safe to breastfeed on the untreated breast? I`d like to breastfeed for a little while before treatment (approx. 4 weeks), should I attempt this or is is best if the milk is dried up before treatment?
My heart goes out to you, as you are in a very difficult situation.
Pre-menopausal breast cancer is often aggressive and life threatening.
Your baby will need a live and healthy mother.
If this is a recent diagnosis made during the pregnancy, it is best to have it treated as early as possible.
Surgical treatment can occur during the pregnancy, followed by radiation and/or chemotherapy immediately following delivery.
Your body will need all of its strength to recover from that, without the added strain of trying to lactate.
In future pregnancies, the irradiated breast will have more trouble producing milk, but the normal breast should produce normally. Breastfeeding should be postponed until then.
Best of luck and good health!
Jeanne L Ballard, MD, FAAP, FABM
Professor Emeritus, Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati