How Long After Breast Cancer Treatment Should I Wait Before Becoming Pregnant
Breast cancer survivors who want to become pregnant are sometimes advised to wait at least 2 years after treatment is finished before trying. The best length of time to wait is not clear, but 2 years is thought to be enough time to find any early return of the cancer, which could affect your decision to become pregnant.
For women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, adjuvant hormone therapy is typically recommended for 5 to 10 years after the initial treatment. Women who want to have children during this time are often advised to take hormone therapy for at least 2 years before stopping it and then waiting a few months before trying to become pregnant. Hormone therapy can then be started again after the baby is born.
Keep in mind that the advice about waiting 2 years is not based on data from any clinical trials. And some breast cancers can come back after the 2-year mark, so every case is different. Your decision should take into account many things, including your age, desire for more pregnancies, type of breast cancer, and the risk of the cancer coming back early.
Surgery For High Risk Breast Cancer
Surgery to remove both breasts may be a possible option for women at very high risk. This is known as a bilateral risk reducing mastectomy. Bilateral means both sides and mastectomy means removal of the breast.
It is important you meet a genetic counsellor before you make a decision about having surgery. They will talk about your own personal risks and explain other options, for example screening for high risk women. Your surgeon and specialist nurse will tell you about the surgery. They will also talk about your feelings and any concerns you may have.
During the operation the surgeon removes as much breast tissue as possible but its not possible to remove it all. So, although surgery lowers your risk it does not go away completely.
You may be able to have breast reconstruction during the surgery, or at a later date. This is surgery to make new breasts using tissue from elsewhere in your body or implants.
Choosing to have risk reducing surgery can be a difficult time for you and your family, so it is important to ask questions. Your doctors and nurses will support you when making your decisions and throughout your treatment.
Speak to your doctor if you have family members with breast cancer and you think you might be at risk of developing it.
Can I Breastfeed After Breast Cancer Treatment
If you have had breast surgery and/or radiation, you might have problems breastfeeding from the affected breast. This might include reduced milk production in that breast as well as structural changes that can make breastfeeding painful, or make it harder for the baby to latch onto the breast. Still, many women are able to breastfeed.
If you are still taking any medicines to treat your breast cancer , its very important to talk with your doctor before trying to breastfeed. Some drugs can enter the breast milk and might affect the baby.
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Is It Possible To Get Breastcancer While Breastfeeding
I’m currently nursing my 3 month old and I found a lump in my breast. I’m using my nursing bras I used with my previous baby, but they don’t fit me exactly. Some are too loose and some too tight, so I make adjustments everytime I change bras. Needlesstosay, sometimes they are too loose, it jiggles and hurts my chest muscle. But I don’t think that would cause a lump.
I’m 33 with a mother who died of breast cancer around 40. So…should I get it checked out now, with my milk glands all working, or wait until I’m done a year from now? I’ve never heard of anyone having cancer while nursing….have you?
How To Be Breast Cancer Aware While Breastfeeding
Breast cancer. Chances are good that you know someone, directly or indirectly, who has been affected by it. The most common cancer among Australian women, it’s estimated that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed within their lifetime and, tragically, 8 women lose their life to the disease every day.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a month designed to provide an opportunity to remind the community about the risks of breast cancer and how it can be detected and prevented.
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Pregnancy And Breast Cancer Risk
Overall, having children means your risk of breast cancer is lowered in the long term. Your risk becomes lower the more children you have and the earlier you begin your family.
This is because hormone changes that occur during pregnancy leave lasting changes to breast cells.
Having children could also be linked to lifestyle choices you might make when youre pregnant that lead to a decrease in risk, such as reducing your alcohol intake or changing your diet.
Research also suggests that temporarily your risk of breast cancer slightly increases after you give birth, regardless of your age. Its not known why this is. It might be due to hormone changes in your body after you give birth. But this is only a very small increase in risk that goes away after a number of years.
How Long Should You Breastfeed To Reduce Your Risk
We don’t yet have a conclusive answer to this, but research, like The Lancet study, has pointed to a trend that longer is better. Even if you supplement with formula, it appears that breastfeeding of any kind still reduces your risk. So don’t feel like it’s all-or-nothing if you’re struggling with supply issues.
Dr. Stuebe encourages the moms she sees in her practice to nurse for at least a year, or as long as both the mom and baby want toin order to receive the many benefits of breastfeeding. The AAP has the same recommendation.
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Aspirin And Anti Inflammatory Drugs
Research has shown that women who regularly take aspirin or other non steroidal anti inflammatory medicines have a slightly lower risk of developing breast cancer. There are trials in progress that will give us more information in the future.
Remember that aspirin can irritate the lining of your stomach and cause bleeding. So you should talk to your own GP before starting to take it regularly.
You shouldn’t take these medicines if you have any history of stomach ulcers.
What To Know About Breastfeeding And Breast Cancer
1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetimes. According to UT Southwestern Medical Center, 1 in 3000 pregnant folks will get a breast cancer diagnosis, and breast cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer diagnosed in pregnancy, during postpartum, and in the first year after giving birth.
These are some scary and sobering statistics. Thankfully, these days, there are many effective ways to treat cancer, and survival rates are often high, depending on the type of cancer and how much it has spread. Still, living with and treating breast cancer is a physically and emotionally grueling experience.
If breast cancer enters your life while you are a breastfeeding parentwhether you face a potential diagnosis, get diagnosed, or begin treatmentyou will be dealing with a very intense and often traumatizing experience.
After all, breastfeeding and caring for young children is challenging enough. Having to contend with a health crisis on top of that can be extremely stressful.
But knowledge is power, and the more you know about breastfeeding and breast cancer, the better able you will be to face the experience head on.
Here are four things to know about breastfeeding and breast cancer:
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How To Be Breast Aware As A Breastfeeder
Lumps, bumps and a constantly changing cup size are just part of the breastfeeding experience. While these things can be annoying, they can also make detection of irregular breast changes tricky.
“It can be more difficult when breastfeeding to recognise potentially concerning changes as the breast tissue normally changes,” says Dr Harvey.
That being said however, the usual signs of breast cancer are still what a breastfeeding mum should look for. These include:
- New masses or lumps felt that do not resolve
- Changes in the nipples not resolving such as colour, asymmetry, ulcers.
- Bleeding or abnormal discharge apart from breast milk
- Changes in the skin of the breast such as discolouration, dimpling or redness.
- Increase in the size of glands under the armpit.
Knowing your breasts is key. Yes, you may experience lumpiness after a longer than normal stretch overnight or the occasional blocked duct that feels like you’ve somehow managed to insert a marble under your skin BUT if these don’t resolve or continue to reoccur despite you doing your best to manage them, it’s worth seeing your doctor.
“What is important is if you are concerned, then consult your doctor for a review and examination,” says Dr Harvey. “It is important to be aware of the changes occurring in your body. If concerned the best advice it to present early for a review.”
Recommendations For Future Research
In future studies of premenopausal breast cancer, a more specific definition of insufficient milk supply should be used. Interview questions should attempt to identify women with problems breastfeeding whose problems arose at the level of the breast and not from mismanagement of breastfeeding or hormonal imbalance. Follow-up questions should be designed so as to narrow the focus on women who intended to breastfeed but could not do so successfully without supplementing with formula due to poor infant weight gain. It may also be useful to rule out breastfeeding difficulties that were due to the infant’s inability to effectively transfer milk from the breast.
A major concern for the design of future studies is that both the exposure and the outcome are rare events among premenopausal women. In a case-control study of women with breast cancer, it is unlikely that many of these women would have experienced primary insufficient milk supply due to its low incidence rate, requiring a large sample size. Nevertheless, case-control studies evaluating breast cancer risk may be the most effective approach as multiple risk factors may be examined in one study and cohort studies are less efficient for rare events.
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What Should I Do If I Have Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Dr. Gorman will review your diagnosis carefully and recommend treatment options. Often, treatment begins with chemotherapy. Breast surgery may then be needed to remove the breast , or part of the breast and to possibly remove lymph nodes that have been affected by Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Surgery can also support cosmetic enhancements to the breasts when the cancer is removed.
Dr. Gorman will then discuss whether radiation is needed, clearly communicating its risks and added benefits.
If you are concerned that you may have cancer and not mastitis, do not hesitate to contact us. We want you to be proactive in seeking answers. Valerie Gorman, MD is a breast surgeon who specializes in personalized treatments for breast cancer. Should you have breast cancer, you are in good hands at Texas Breast Center. Dr. Gorman will walk alongside the patient, from the first mammograms, through surgery and any additional treatments, to follow visits in the future, all for your peace of mind. Her efforts to ensure you have a caring medical professional at every stage of cancer treatment allows for patients and families feel assured that she genuinely cares about their recovery. Dr. Gorman always attempts to accelerate the process with her hands-on approach and clear communication, so there is not the anxious waiting that patients often experience at other breast cancer centers.
Implications For Public Health Practice
To increase rates of breastfeeding initiation and duration among black women, and potentially decrease some subtypes of breast cancer incidence, interventions are needed that are specifically designed to meet the needs of black mothers. Integrating interventions across multiple layers of society and in multiple settings, including hospitals and medical settings, workplaces, schools, community-based organizations and places of worship, has been effective at increasing rates of breastfeeding among black women.34 Including information in these interventions about breastfeeding as a protective factor for aggressive breast cancers that more frequently impact black women may encourage healthcare providers, employers, child care providers, and family and friends to support and encourage breastfeeding. Because triple-negative breast cancer disproportionately affects younger women and non-Hispanic black women,6,7 providing this information to these women during preconception and interconception care may influence their breastfeeding intentions for future and subsequent children.
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What To Do When You Feel Signs
You should contact your health care provider immediately if you are pregnant and find any issues with your breasts . A breast ultrasound can be requested by your health care provider.
A mammogram is also required periodically to check the region of concern in your breast. A mammogram can only be done if absolutely necessary, and can be performed safely during pregnancy since a lead shield will protect your abdomen.
To assess the lump, they may schedule a diagnostic mammogram or ultrasound.
If there is a doubt about your breasts, these tests should not be postponed when breastfeeding. Please pump or breastfeed your baby about 30 minutes before your test if you need a mammogram when you are breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding Lowers Your Risk Of Breast Cancer
Okay, so heres some good news, finally! Breastfeeding itself lowers your overall risk of breast cancer. Experts think this has to do with hormones, as breastfeeding suppresses your estrogen levels . The less estrogen you are exposed to during your lifetime, the less likely you are to develop breast cancer. Breastfeeding also protects you against ovarian cancer. Woot woot!
If you are a breastfeeding parent who is faced with a potential breast cancer diagnosis, or are facing treatment for breast cancer, its likely that you are feeling overwhelmed.
One of the overwhelming things about it is that there is so much unclear and conflicted information out there about managing breast cancer while you are breastfeeding. I urge you to make sure that you are consulting reputable sources, such as the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine and the CDC. Talk to a lactation consultant or a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician if you need further clarification.
Maybe most importantly, if you are a breastfeeding parent dealing with breast cancer, please take your mental health as seriously. You are likely going to be facing a very tough road ahead, and you are not meant to do it alone. Talk to your healthcare provider about mental health support, including individual therapy and breast cancer support groups.
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What To Know About Breastfeeding Pumping And Breast Cancer
Here’s what you should know about breastfeeding and breast cancer, including common questions and answers around this important topic.
One in eight U.S. women will develop breast cancer over the course of their lifetime. And many women find that while theyre breastfeeding or pumping, theyre more aware than ever of their breast health, including how they can reduce the risk of breast cancer and what warning signs to watch for.
While some women already know that breastfeeding and pumping can reduce their risks, there are more breast cancer and breastfeeding facts to be aware of. Were tackling some of the most common questions to keep all breastfeeding moms informed.
Can breastfeeding help reduce my risk of breast cancer?
Yes! Many studies have shown that breastfeeding lowers your risk of developing breast cancer and the longer you breastfeed in your lifetime, the more the risk is reduced.
Can I get breast cancer while Im breastfeeding or pumping?
While its very rare, a small percentage of women do develop breast cancer while they are breastfeeding or using a breast pump. Lactating breasts are often lumpy and bumpy due to normal breast fullness, breast milk production, and the occasional plugged duct. Just be sure to pay attention to how your breasts normally feel and make sure you know the signs of a suspicious lump that needs medical attention.
Can I still get a mammogram while breastfeeding or pumping?
Is it possible to breastfeed or pump after breast cancer?
Does Pregnancy Affect Survival Rates For Breast Cancer
Pregnancy can make it harder to find, diagnose, and treat breast cancer. Most studies have found that the outcomes among pregnant and non-pregnant women with breast cancer are about the same for cancers found at the same stage.
Some doctors believe that ending the pregnancy may help slow the course of more advanced breast cancers, and they may recommend that for some women with advanced breast cancer. Its hard to do research in this area, and good, unbiased studies dont exist. Ending the pregnancy makes treatment simpler, but so far no evidence shows that ending the pregnancy improves a womans overall survival or cancer outcome.
Studies have not shown that the treatment delays that are sometimes needed during pregnancy have an effect on breast cancer outcome, either. But this, too, has proven to be a difficult area to study. Finally, there are no reports showing that breast cancer itself can harm the baby.
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How Does Lactation Affect Normal Breast Screening Methods
- Mammogram CAN be done in a breastfeeding woman. Ideally, it should be done with an experienced mammographer who knows the woman is breastfeeding, as the images will be more complex. She should empty her breasts as much as possible right before the mammogram, either by nursing or pumping.
- Ultrasound CAN be done in a breastfeeding woman. Same issues apply. Ultrasound, incidentally, can actually be somewhat useful therapeutically for breaking up a clogged duct.
- MRI CAN be done in a breastfeeding mother, though it is not recommended just for routine screening because the sensitivity is lowered. Gadolinium, the dye used for MRIs of the breast, barely gets into milk and is not absorbed by the babys gut, so it is safe no need to pump and dump. Milk cytology can be done, but its often low-yield. It does have the advantage of being noninvasive, but needs a specialized pathologist and doesnt usually rule out cancer.