Last update April 6, 2021
Bleomycin is an antineoplastic antibiotic.
It is used to treat squamous cell carcinomas (cervix and external genitalia, oesophagus, skin, head and neck), Hodgkin's disease, carcinoma of the bladder, lung, and thyroid, and some sarcomas.
Intramuscular, intravenous, or subcutaneous administration.
It is also applied topically for the local treatment of skin tumours, warts, hemangiomas, and keloids.
Since the last update we have not found any published data on its excretion in breast milk.
Its pharmacokinetic characteristics (high molecular weight and large volume of distribution) make it very unlikely its excretion into breast milk in significant amounts.
During the treatment of cancer, breastfeeding should be interrupted temporarily due to potentially serious side effects for the infant. Chemotherapy does not affect milk production during or after treatment.
Abrupt weaning can be psychologically traumatic for both the mother and the infant (Pistilli 2013). If the mother wishes, production of milk can be maintained by regularly expressing breastmilk, being able to resume breastfeeding in the periods in which no significant traces of the drug remain in the milk (Anderson 2016) or at the end of the treatment (Pistilli 2013).
It is known from pharmacokinetics that after 3 elimination half-lives (T½), 87.5% of the drug is eliminated from the organism; after 4 T½ it is 94%, after 5 T½, 96.9%, after 6 T½, 98.4% and after 7 T½, 99%. From 7 T½ the plasma concentrations of the drug in the body are negligible. In general, a period of at least five half-lives can be considered a safe waiting period before breastfeeding again (Anderson 2016).
Taking the longest published T½ (4 hours for IV bolus and 9 hours for continuous IV infusion) as a reference, these 5 T½ would correspond to 20 hours and 2 days respectively. Due to major side effects, it would be advisable to wait 7 T½, which would correspond to 1 and 2,6 days respectively. Meanwhile, express and discard milk from the breast regularly to maintain production.
The small dose and poor plasma absorption of topical intralesional bleomycin (Payapvipapong 2015) makes it likely that the waiting time to breastfeed can be reduced to one day.
When it is possible to do so, milk detections of each patient to determine the total elimination of the drug would be the best indicator to resume breastfeeding between two cycles of chemotherapy.
Some chemotherapeutic agents with an antibiotic effect can alter the composition of the microbiota (bacterial set or bacterial flora) of the milk and the concentration of some of its components (Urbaniak 2014). This possibly occurs temporarily with subsequent recovery, although no harmful effects are assumed or have been reported in breastfed infants.
Women undergoing chemotherapy during pregnancy have lower rates of breastfeeding because they experience difficulties in breastfeeding (Stopenski 2017), needing more support to achieve it.
Given the strong evidence that exists regarding the benefits of breastfeeding for the development of babies and the health of mothers, it is advisable to evaluate the risk-benefit of any maternal treatment, including chemotherapy, individually advising each mother who wishes to continue with breastfeeding (Koren 2013).
We do not have alternatives for Bleomycin Sulfate.
Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.
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