Chemotherapy, targeted agents, antiemetics and growth-factors in human milk: how should we counsel cancer patients about breastfeeding?

Cancer Treat Rev. 2013 May;39(3):207-11. doi: 10.1016/j.ctrv.2012.10.002. Epub 2012 Nov 28.


An increasing number of women are diagnosed with cancer during pregnancy and lactation. Women are usually advised to interrupt breastfeeding during systemic anticancer treatment for fear of serious adverse effects to the nursed infant. However, the issue is poorly addressed in the literature and very few studies have evaluated the safety of breastfeeding during or after cytotoxic drugs or target agents administration. In this review we will analyze the available evidence that addresses the issue of anticancer drugs, targeted agents, antiemetics and growth-factors excretion in human milk. This could serve as a unique resource that may aid physicians in the management of breastfeeding cancer patients interested in maintaining lactation during treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiemetics / adverse effects
  • Antiemetics / pharmacokinetics*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / chemically induced
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / adverse effects
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / pharmacokinetics*
  • Lactation / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Milk, Human / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Neoplastic / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Neoplastic / metabolism*


  • Antiemetics
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins