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Q&A about breast cancer

Updated: 2020-05-20


For young breast cancer patients, childbearing often becomes both a desire and a hesitation in their hearts -- so will breast cancer affect women to be mothers?

1. Do breast cancer patients still have fertility after surgery?

Many treatments targeting tumors can have an impact on fertility, potentially leading to temporary or permanent amenorrhea. The recovery of menstruation varies from person to person and the older the age, the lower the probability of recovery. Therefore, it is not recommended to have babies before the end of treatment.

2. Does pregnancy and birth increase the risk of breast cancer recurrence or metastasis?

If the patient's condition is treated and pregnancy and childbirth are carried out under the scientific guidance of doctors, not only does the recurrence and metastasis rate of cancer not increase, but also the mortality rate is reduced. It is safe to conceive and give birth to a baby after treatment for breast cancer, but it is not recommended to conceive and give birth to a baby for those patients with phase IV breast cancer and those with poor treatment effects and a progression of the disease.

3. How can breast cancer patients better conceive and have babies?

(1). Protection of fertility: ovarian function inhibitors are used in the process of receiving chemotherapy, which can alleviate ovarian damage caused by chemotherapy without affecting the efficacy of chemotherapy and ovarian functions can be restored after drug withdrawal.

(2). Oocytes, ovarian tissue or embryos can be cryopreserved under the guidance of a doctor.

4. How long can breast cancer patients begin to conceive and have babies after surgical treatment?

Patients with these conditions may consider pregnancy and childbearing under the guidance of a physician:

(1). If patients with breast cancer in situ were treated with surgery and radiotherapy.

(2). If patients with lymph node-negative invasive breast cancer were treated surgically before two years.

(3). If patients with lymph node-positive invasive breast cancer were treated surgically before five years.

(4). If patients requiring adjuvant endocrine therapy choose to discontinue endocrine therapy three months before conception, until the end of lactation after childbirth before continuing to receive endocrine therapy.

5. May a baby born to a breast cancer patient who is pregnant after treatment have malformations?

Studies have found that there were no differences between normal women and breast cancer patients after treatment in terms of reproductive age, baby's premature birth rate, baby's birth weight and complications -- so babies will not be affected by breast cancer surgery and treatment received by their mothers.

However, the risk of premature birth and low birth weight for babies delivered by breast cancer patients within one year after receiving chemotherapy is increased. In order to avoid adverse effects such as fetal malformations caused by residual chemicals in the body, it is generally recommended that pregnancy and giving birth be considered at least one year after the end of chemotherapy.

Patients treated with trastuzumab can become pregnant and have children, but pregnancy and childbearing during endocrine therapy are not recommended.

6. Can breast cancer patients breast-feed after childbirth?

The breast on the affected side is unable to breast-feed because the operation destroys its normal structure; however, the breast on the healthy side is completely able to breast-feed normally.

In summary, breast cancer cannot be a barrier to pregnancy and fertility for women. After receiving standard treatment and under the guidance of doctors, breast cancer patients can still become mothers.