Having Children After Breast Cancer
Young women being treated for breast cancer may be concerned about loss of fertility (the ability to have a natural pregnancy).
Both chemotherapy and hormone therapy can impact fertility and shorten the window of time to have children.
Learn more about breast cancer treatment and infertility.
There are steps women can take to help preserve fertility.
If you wish to have a child after breast cancer treatment, talk with your health care provider (and if possible, a fertility specialist) before making treatment decisions and discuss your options.
Meeting with a fertility specialist as early as possible (before surgery) offers the widest range of options.
The most common way to preserve fertility is to store eggs (fertilized or unfertilized) before chemotherapy begins.
Some women may use an ovarian suppression drug to help protect the ovaries from damage during chemotherapy.
Women taking hormone therapy can talk with their oncologist about whether they can take a break from it to have a child and then return to hormone therapy to complete their full course of treatment .
Pregnancy and breast cancer survival
Having a child after completing breast cancer treatment doesn’t appear to be linked to worse survival for women [97-101].
Your health care provider or a fertility specialist can discuss the best timing of a pregnancy for you based on your breast cancer treatment.
For a summary of research studies on pregnancy after breast cancer, visit the Breast Cancer Research section.
Some treatments for breast cancer can impact your ability to breastfeed.
If you had surgery to only one breast, breastfeeding from your untreated (opposite) breast should be fine.
Breastfeeding should be avoided while being treated with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, HER2-targeted therapy or other drug therapies.
After lumpectomy and radiation therapy
Breastfeeding from the treated breast after a lumpectomy plus radiation therapy may be difficult. Both the surgery and the radiation therapy can harm the tissue needed for breastfeeding.
While feeding from the treated breast is possible (and the milk is safe for the baby), it’s not common, and the amount of milk produced may be greatly reduced .
Other concerns about having a child after breast cancer treatment
Pregnancy after breast cancer treatment doesn’t appear to be linked to worse survival, but some women may have other concerns about having a child.
Women who have a strong family history of breast cancer may worry about passing on an inherited genetic mutation that increases risk.
Women with a high risk of breast cancer recurrence (a return of breast cancer) may worry about having a recurrence while pregnant or after delivery. Or they may worry, like women with metastatic breast cancer, about not living long enough to raise a child.
Having a child is a personal decision. However, if you have any concerns, it may be helpful to talk with your health care provider or a counselor and to seek support from your family, friends and other loved ones.
Learn more about breast cancer concerns for family members.
Learn more about inherited genetic mutations and breast cancer risk.
Support for young breast cancer survivors and their families
Young women with breast cancer can feel isolated. Because most women with breast cancer are older, it’s easy to feel alone, even among other women with breast cancer.
A support group tailored to younger women with any type of cancer may be more helpful than one for women of any age with breast cancer. Younger women need to be able to share their thoughts and feelings with women who are at the same stage of life and may have similar concerns about fertility and having children.
Learn more about social support for young women diagnosed with breast cancer.
Learn more about social support for spouses, partners and other family members.
Learn more about social support for children.
Susan G. Komen® Support Resources