Doxorubicin use while Breastfeeding
Drugs containing Doxorubicin: Adriamycin, Adriamycin PFS, Adriamycin RDF
Doxorubicin Levels and Effects while Breastfeeding
Summary of Use during Lactation
Most sources consider breastfeeding to be contraindicated during maternal antineoplastic drug therapy, especially anthracyclines such as doxorubicin. It might be possible to breastfeed safely during intermittent therapy with an appropriate period of breastfeeding abstinence; however, the high levels and persistence of doxorubicinol in milk make defining an appropriate abstinence interval difficult. Chemotherapy may adversely affect the normal microbiome and chemical makeup of breastmilk. Women who receive chemotherapy during pregnancy are more likely to have difficulty nursing their infant.
Maternal Levels. Doxorubicin, doxorubicinol and two other metabolites were detected in milk after administration of 70 mg/sq m (90 mg) of doxorubicin intravenously. Peak milk levels of 128 mcg/L of doxorubicin and 111 mcg/L of its active metabolite doxorubicinol occurred 24 hours after the dose. Both drugs were detectable in milk for at least 72 hours after the dose. Other metabolites were also detected in milk at lower levels. Using these data, the breastfed infant in this case would have received an estimated 2% of maternal weight-adjusted dosage if he had been allowed to nurse throughout the 72 hours after the dose.
Infant Levels. Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
Effects in Breastfed Infants
Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.
Effects on Lactation and Breastmilk
A study of adolescent males who had received chemotherapy for childhood malignancies found that having received doxorubicin was associated with elevated serum prolactin concentrations.
A woman diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma during the second trimester of pregnancy received 3 rounds of chemotherapy during the third trimester of pregnancy and resumed chemotherapy 4 weeks postpartum. Milk samples were collected 15 to 30 minutes before and after chemotherapy for 16 weeks after restarting. The regimen consisted of doxorubicin 40 mg, bleomycin 16 units, vinblastine 9.6 mg and dacarbazine 600 mg, all given over a 2-hour period every 2 weeks. The microbial population and metabolic profile of her milk were compared to those of 8 healthy women who were not receiving chemotherapy. The breastmilk microbial population in the patient was markedly different from that of the healthy women, with increases in Acinetobacter sp., Xanthomonadacae and Stenotrophomonas sp. and decreases in Bifidobacterium sp. and Eubacterium sp. Marked differences were also found among numerous chemical components in the breastmilk of the treated woman, most notably DHA and inositol were decreased.
A telephone follow-up study was conducted on 74 women who received cancer chemotherapy at one center during the second or third trimester of pregnancy to determine if they were successful at breastfeeding postpartum. Only 34% of the women were able to exclusively breastfeed their infants, and 66% of the women reported experiencing breastfeeding difficulties. This was in comparison to a 91% breastfeeding success rate in 22 other mothers diagnosed during pregnancy, but not treated with chemotherapy. Other statistically significant correlations included: 1. mothers with breastfeeding difficulties had an average of 5.5 cycles of chemotherapy compared with 3.8 cycles among mothers who had no difficulties; and 2. mothers with breastfeeding difficulties received their first cycle of chemotherapy on average 3.4 weeks earlier in pregnancy. Of the 62 women who received a doxorubicin-containing regimen, 39 had breastfeeding difficulties.
1. Pistilli B, Bellettini G, Giovannetti E et al. Chemotherapy, targeted agents, antiemetics and growth-factors in human milk: How should we counsel cancer patients about breastfeeding? Cancer Treat Rev. 2013;39:207-11. PMID: 23199900
2. Urbaniak C, McMillan A, Angelini M et al. Effect of chemotherapy on the microbiota and metabolome of human milk, a case report. Microbiome. 2014;2:24. PMID: 25061513
3. Egan PC, Costanza M, Dodion P et al. Secretion of doxorubicin (DOX) and cisplatin (DDP) into human milk. Proc ASCO. 1984;3:21. Abstract.
4. Egan PC, Costanza ME, Dodion P et al. Doxorubicin and cisplatin excretion into human milk. Cancer Treat Rep. 1985;69:1387-9. PMID: 4075315
5. Siimes MA, Ropponen P, Aalberg V et al. Prolactinemia in adolescent males surviving malignancies in childhood: impaired dating activity. J Adolesc Health. 1993;14:543-7. PMID: 8312290
6. Stopenski S, Aslam A, Zhang X et al. After chemotherapy treatment for maternal cancer during pregnancy, is breastfeeding possible? Breastfeed Med. 2017;12:91-7. PMID: 28170295
CAS Registry Number
Topoisomerase II Inhibitors
LactMed Record Number
Last Revision Date
Information presented in this database is not meant as a substitute for professional judgment. You should consult your healthcare provider for breastfeeding advice related to your particular situation. The U.S. government does not warrant or assume any liability or responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information on this Site.
More about doxorubicin
- Side Effects
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
- Drug Interactions
- Support Group
- Pricing & Coupons
- En Español
- 5 Reviews – Add your own review/rating
- Drug class: antibiotics/antineoplastics
Other brands: Adriamycin