Breast-feeding is said to be a preventive measure against breast cancer. Not breast-feeding is said to be one of the risk factors for breast cancer. Some women do develop breast cancer, though they have breastfed baby/babies. The cancer occurs due to presence of other one or more risk factors. These are like early menarche,having a baby late in life, advancing age, family history of breast cancer, use of alcohol, tobacco, e.t.c. In breast cancer, there may be a lump or ulcer in the breast or bloody discharge. It can be diagnosed by mammography, ultrasound of the breast and confirmed by biopsy. As such breast cancer does not pose any risk for the baby who is feeding. But while undergoing treatment, a woman on radiation therapy should avoid breast feeding for that period. As such surgery does not pose any risk for breast feeding. But the amount of breast tissue is reduced or one breast is entirely removed. This can reduce the amount of milk available for the baby. Hence alternate feeding options should be
adopted like using formula feeds or bottle feeding with cow’s milk. Pumping the breast and storing the milk to feed the infant later is yet another option.
If on chemotherapy, the woman should discuss options of breast feeding with her treating doctor or nurse. Many chemotherapeutic drugs can harm the feeding child. Hence the options remain, either to postpone the chemotherapy till breast feeding is completed or not to breast feed the baby till chemotherapy is finished.