Drugs Home > Etoposide and Breastfeeding

According to a few reports, etoposide has been shown to pass through breast milk. This medication can increase the risk for serious side effects, such as bleeding, anemia, and infections. The manufacturer recommends women not breastfeed while using etoposide; however, many experts believe the drug is safe to use while nursing as long as a woman waits at least 24 hours after the last dose.

Can Breastfeeding Women Use Etoposide?

Etoposide is a prescription cancer medication approved to treat lung cancer and testicular cancer. It comes as a capsule and an intravenous (IV) injection. Etoposide has been shown to pass through breast milk in humans.

More Information About Etoposide and Breastfeeding

There is limited information available on the use of etoposide during breastfeeding, or the effects of the medicine on a nursing child. In one report, the drug was found in the breast milk of a woman who was given etoposide injection for five days, in combination with other cancer medicines. Etoposide levels were highest in the breast milk immediately after the last three doses were given, and no medicine was detectable in the breast milk 24 hours after each dose.
Etoposide has the potential to cause serious side effects, including infections, anemia, and bleeding. The manufacturer of the medicine recommends that women should not nurse during etoposide treatment because of the potential risk for these side effects to occur in a nursing child. However, other experts suggest breastfeeding may be safe during treatment breaks, as long as at least 24 to 55 hours have passed since the last etoposide dose.
It should be noted, however, that etoposide is usually given in combination with other cancer medicines. The safety of all of the medicines a woman receives must be taken into account when considering breastfeeding during chemotherapy treatment.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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