Gleevec and Breastfeeding

It is unclear if Gleevec (sunitinib) passes through human breast milk. However, the medication has been shown to pass through the breast milk of rats, and it is likely that it would also pass through human breast milk. It is generally recommended to avoid breastfeeding while taking Gleevec. If your doctor says it is okay to breastfeed, monitor your child for diarrhea and other side effects.

Can Breastfeeding Women Take Gleevec?

Gleevec® (imatinib mesylate) is a prescription chemotherapy medication used in people with certain types of cancer. At this time, it is unknown if this medication passes through breast milk in humans. If you are currently breastfeeding a child, talk to your healthcare provider before taking Gleevec.
 

More Information About Gleevec and Breastfeeding

Gleevec has been shown to pass through the breast milk of rats. In these animal studies, it was estimated that about 1.5 percent of the mother rat's dose was passed to the nursing infant, which would be about the same as 30 percent of the mother's dose.
 
Gleevec has also been shown to pass through the breast milk of humans in small amounts. Based on reports of women who took the medicine while breastfeeding, a nursing child could receive up to 10 percent of the mother's dose. The highest amount of drug is passed to the infant two to four hours after a dose is taken.
 
Because of the potential for serious side effects from this medicine, Gleevec is generally not recommended for use in breastfeeding women. The manufacturer of the medicine recommends women either stop breastfeeding or stop Gleevec treatment.
 
If your healthcare provider recommends Gleevec while you are breastfeeding, it may be best to avoid breastfeeding for eight to nine hours after you take your dose, if possible. This will help reduce the amount of medicine passed to your child. Also, be sure to observe your child for any possible Gleevec side effects, and contact your child's healthcare provider if you notice anything out of the ordinary.
 
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Gleevec Medication Information

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