Breastfeeding after cancer treatment is possible however not all patients can breast feed. While there is no simple answer there are factors to consider. As there are multiple treatment options for cancer patients the doctor would prescribe the treatment which is most effective to you. However each treatment comes with its pros and cons. For some, the cons can be the inability to breast feed.
One will ask so is it ever possible to breast feed while in cancer remission? In general, yes it is possible. In fact, many breast cancer patients go on to successfully breast feed. But there are a few exceptions and this is why the answer is not quite black and white.
To fully answer the question if breast feeding possible after breast cancer one first needs to understand the treatment used. The breast cancer treatment will mainly determine if it is possible to breast feed or not.
When is Breastfeeding after cancer not possible?
Double mastectomy is the removal of two breasts. Perhaps the most obvious answer, if both breasts are removed breastfeeding is impossible. Since both breasts have been removed, there is no breast tissue or gland that can produce milk.
Radiation is also a common treatment for breast cancer in India. Radiation destroys cells so breast feeding may be impossible. However, if radiation is received in only one breast the other breast is unaffected and can be used. Less breast milk being produced is a likely outcome from radiation therapies.
When is Breastfeeding after cancer maybe possible?
Chemotherapy is possibly the most common breast cancer treatment in India. Breast feeding immediately after chemo may not be possible as there may be chemo still present in breast cells. A woman may need to wait days or even weeks after chemo to ensure it is cleared out from her system before breastfeeding.
Hormonal therapy is often used in cases where chemotherapy is not required (see EndoPredict). It is unsafe to breast feed while undergoing hormonal therapy as the drugs may affect the baby. Patients may be advised to wait two years after hormone therapy to breast feed.
If a single breast is removed the other breast may be used to breast feed as normal. A woman may need to boast her milk supply.
Immunotherapy is a new age treatment for cancer. It enables the body’s own immune system to detect and then fight cancer. Immunotherapies have been launched only recently in India but are increasingly used in cancer care. The effects of breast feeding under immunotherapy is still unknown.
Disclaimer: Positive Bioscience strongly recommends you speak to your doctor before breast feeding after receiving cancer treatment. As all cases are unique and everyone goes through a different treatment dose and plan. Please consult your doctor before starting breast feeding.