Infertility (the inability to have a natural pregnancy) can be a concern for younger women with breast cancer.
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 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.
Options may include storing embryos before treatment begins and using a drug during therapy to help protect the ovaries from damage.
Learn more about fertility options, loss of fertility and other issues for young women with breast cancer.
Learn about insurance and financial assistance for fertility services.
Having a child after breast cancer treatment does not appear to lower a woman’s chances for long-term survival [102-104].
One large study found women who had a child after breast cancer treatment had better overall survival than women who did not .
Women who become pregnant after completing treatment for breast cancer may be healthier than those who do not. For this reason, findings from studies on this topic may be limited to these healthier women .
Your health care provider or a fertility specialist can discuss the best timing of a pregnancy 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 from the treated breast after a lumpectomy plus radiation therapy may be difficult.
Both the surgery and the radiation can harm the tissue needed for breastfeeding.
While feeding from the treated breast is possible (and the milk is safe for the baby), it is not common and the amount of milk produced may be greatly reduced [105-106].
Even though pregnancy after treatment does not appear to lower survival, some survivors may have other concerns about having a child.
Survivors with a strong family history of breast cancer may worry about passing on an inherited gene mutation that increases risk.
Women with a high risk of recurrence or living with metastatic breast cancer may worry about not living long enough to raise a child.
Ultimately, having a child is a personal decision.
However, if you have any concerns, it may be helpful to talk with your health care provider and to seek support from your family, friends and other co-survivors.
Learn more about breast cancer concerns for family members.
Learn more about inherited genetic mutations and breast cancer risk.
Young breast cancer survivors can feel isolated.
Because most women with breast cancer are older, it’s easy to feel alone even among other survivors. So, a support group tailored to younger women with any type of cancer may be more helpful than one for breast cancer survivors.
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.
Some websites, such as the Young Survival Coalition, offer chat rooms and e-mail discussion groups for young survivors. Living Beyond Breast Cancer offers telephone support from other young survivors (1-888-753-5222) and a series of videos for young survivors.
Learn more about social support for breast cancer survivors.
Social support is also important for loved ones, especially spouses, partners and children.
Learn more about social support for spouses, partners and other family members.
Learn more about social support for children.
Komen Support Resources
*Please note, the information provided within Komen Perspectives articles is only current as of the date of posting. Therefore, some information may be out of date at this time.
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