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Breastfeeding and Melanoma

Forums General Melanoma Community Breastfeeding and Melanoma

  • Post
    Leigh
    Participant

    Hi there,

    Hi there,

    I have never posted on a board before, mostly look at others and try to learn from them.  I hope you dont mind me asking for some direction.  I have been so very lucky to recently have a negative sentinel node biopsy after being diagnosed with a melanoma recently.  The nodes were enlarged (but had been painful so thought to be related to a small infection I had) I dont know what type of follow-up I will be having (I believe 3 monthly skin checks) and have had no other tests done (eg CXR etc) although I know that current thinking is that further investigations are not indicated. 

    My main concern is making sure I stay well and I am so so sorry when I read others stories.  I have two young children, my youngest is now 12 weeks old and I am still exclusively breastfeeding after expressing through the time I was in hospital with surgery/radioactive tracing etc.  Does anybody know if breastfeeding has any impact on women with a diagnosis of melanoma.  I know that there is some indication women avoid HRT due to a possible hormonal link, previous thoughts that pregnancy impacts melanoma, although this doesn't seem current thinking opinions change.  I want to try and find some conclusive information about this and wondered if anybody could point me in the right direction.

    I have been reading frightening stories of people having WLE/sentinel node biopsies and getting the all clear, only to find out years later that they have recurrence and I need to do everything I can for my childrens sake to make sure that doesn't happen.  I'm sorry to write this when so many of you have got unbearably difficult situations and this must seem very minor in comparison. 

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  • Replies
      DebbieH
      Participant

      Hi there, Jacqui,

      I have seen nothing to make you think breastfeeding could have anything to do with melanoma recurring.  I believe the current consensus is that HRT has no impact as well, although I may be corrected on this. 

      The frightening thing about melanoma IS that it can always return but nobody knows what's down the road for them with anything.  My advice is to enjoy those children,and enjoy your life, while making sure to keep an eye on any CHANGES in your body.  As one who did have a thin one return, you also need to know that there is plenty of hope at all stages.  Finding a balance is challenging but you can do it.  Good luck to you.

      DebbieH, stage IIIC, NED over 9 YEARS

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      DebbieH
      Participant

      Hi there, Jacqui,

      I have seen nothing to make you think breastfeeding could have anything to do with melanoma recurring.  I believe the current consensus is that HRT has no impact as well, although I may be corrected on this. 

      The frightening thing about melanoma IS that it can always return but nobody knows what's down the road for them with anything.  My advice is to enjoy those children,and enjoy your life, while making sure to keep an eye on any CHANGES in your body.  As one who did have a thin one return, you also need to know that there is plenty of hope at all stages.  Finding a balance is challenging but you can do it.  Good luck to you.

      DebbieH, stage IIIC, NED over 9 YEARS

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      lhaley
      Participant

      Jacqui,

      First of all congratulations on the birth of your baby!  I wish you didn't need to join us but please feel free to ask questions. I cannot answer your question about breast feeding but I just wanted to say to enjoy your children and enjoy your life!!  My melanoma was diagnosed a few years before I became pregnant (I did not breastfeed). While I did have a recurrance 27 years later I watched my son grow and now I'm a grandmother!  No one knows who will have a recurrance – you may never. If you live in worry then you've wasted way too much time.

      Linda

      Stage IV since 06

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      lhaley
      Participant

      Jacqui,

      First of all congratulations on the birth of your baby!  I wish you didn't need to join us but please feel free to ask questions. I cannot answer your question about breast feeding but I just wanted to say to enjoy your children and enjoy your life!!  My melanoma was diagnosed a few years before I became pregnant (I did not breastfeed). While I did have a recurrance 27 years later I watched my son grow and now I'm a grandmother!  No one knows who will have a recurrance – you may never. If you live in worry then you've wasted way too much time.

      Linda

      Stage IV since 06

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      Kim K
      Participant

      Hi Jacqui,

      Congatulations on your little one and breastfeeding.  The current research does NOT implicate hormones with melanoma.  Older research does and thus you will still find controversy.  You can google the current research studies.  I have some articles on this, and so does Janner.

      It will come back if it wants to no matter what.  Just stay vigilant.

      RE the breastfeeding, it is the best thing for your child AND you.  You can google that as well.  That being said, breastfeeding won't negatively impact your melanoma, and can only be a positive for you and your child.  Especially the bonding, and anti-stress hormones that are released each time.  I didn't realize how powerful the hormones were until I breastfed both my girls for a year each.  It felt like I had a nice beer buzz and was very calm afterward.  I looked forward to the quiet breaks during my hectic days at work.

      Keep on pumping!  Enjoy this short period of your lives, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO worth it.

      Kim K

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      Kim K
      Participant

      Hi Jacqui,

      Congatulations on your little one and breastfeeding.  The current research does NOT implicate hormones with melanoma.  Older research does and thus you will still find controversy.  You can google the current research studies.  I have some articles on this, and so does Janner.

      It will come back if it wants to no matter what.  Just stay vigilant.

      RE the breastfeeding, it is the best thing for your child AND you.  You can google that as well.  That being said, breastfeeding won't negatively impact your melanoma, and can only be a positive for you and your child.  Especially the bonding, and anti-stress hormones that are released each time.  I didn't realize how powerful the hormones were until I breastfed both my girls for a year each.  It felt like I had a nice beer buzz and was very calm afterward.  I looked forward to the quiet breaks during my hectic days at work.

      Keep on pumping!  Enjoy this short period of your lives, it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO worth it.

      Kim K

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        Leigh
        Participant

        Hello and thank you so much for all your replies. I have looked a bit more at the breastfeeding and hope that as it lowers oestrogen in the body compared to pregnancy/HRT the mechanism is quite different. I breastfed my eldest child to 14months and the breastfeeding is the main thing I can do for my wee baby at the moment whilst I am laid up waiting for the skingraft to heal.  Not sure what we are going to do when my husband needs to return to work and my two year old has been having major problems with me being in hospital and laid up after two operations twice in less than three months let alone having a new sibling. 

        I really appreciate your advice to live life etc.  I am finding it hard at the moment, I had a great period of relief with the negative SNB but am now realising this hasn't just disappeared completely necessarily, especially after reading your profiles. I think I need to stop reading all of this but have a real need to know that I am covering all bases.  After having 3 Doctors (and multiple obstetricians) look at my "mole" and dismissing it, I am going to triple check everything.  I know the odds are with me and am very thankful for that. 

        Do any of you know/have an opinion on whether I should be requesting other tests.  The possibility it could spread by the blood (6% I have seen) frightens me and I wonder if I should be doing baseline CT/PET/CXR. I haven't had PCR done. I know guidelines do not suggest this but that is for the population and based on stats rather than on an individual. This all may sound over the top I know and I know my surgeon will probably say just to get on with life and the chances are low….I'm very cautious though and do not want to leave anything to chance.

        My left groin feels swollen and a little bit tender 2 weeks postop (fine until now) so of course I am wondering about this and what to do.  The nodes were swollen at the time of the operation and thought to be related to infection, now I think they are swollen again but without infection.  I know it seems likely that this is operation related but still makes me panic.

        Sorry this is a long post and difficult to concentrate with my little girl chatting etc.  Once again thanks for all your replies.  I have just read over the post and these seem like such minor worries in comparison to other posts I have read here but I really want to learn from your experiences.  Thank you so much.

         

           

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        Tracy Chicago
        Participant

        Hey there! You must be feeling pretty anxious right now! My mel had spread to one lymph node a few months after I had my baby and I breast fed her until she was 6 months; then I had to stop b/c I was starting interferon. I didn't come across anything in my research that stated breast feeding wasn't recommended with a melanoma diagnosis.  If you enyoy it, keep doing it. I, on the other hand, didn't enjoy it and was relieved when I *got* to quit as I had a hard time producing enough.

        It is really hard to move on with your life, not knowing what life has in store for you. One thing that helped me so much was going to a therapist. She helped me realize that I might actually live a long life despite of melanoma (who knows!) and that I should treat my time with my daughter and husband as if I'm going to be  around a long time! That was great advice b/c at the time I found myself pulling away from them and hiding out in my bedroom.  I have done a complete 180 and I am so much happier. The panic is still there sometimes, but it does get better as time goes on.

        My advice for follow up would be to see a melanoma oncologist just for an initial evalauation and to see if they want you to get a cat scan. I'd also be award of any new lumps in the lymph nodes and get them looked at by an oncologist right away.

        Best of luck to you! Squeeze those kids and give them lots of kisses!

        Tracy

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        Tracy Chicago
        Participant

        Hey there! You must be feeling pretty anxious right now! My mel had spread to one lymph node a few months after I had my baby and I breast fed her until she was 6 months; then I had to stop b/c I was starting interferon. I didn't come across anything in my research that stated breast feeding wasn't recommended with a melanoma diagnosis.  If you enyoy it, keep doing it. I, on the other hand, didn't enjoy it and was relieved when I *got* to quit as I had a hard time producing enough.

        It is really hard to move on with your life, not knowing what life has in store for you. One thing that helped me so much was going to a therapist. She helped me realize that I might actually live a long life despite of melanoma (who knows!) and that I should treat my time with my daughter and husband as if I'm going to be  around a long time! That was great advice b/c at the time I found myself pulling away from them and hiding out in my bedroom.  I have done a complete 180 and I am so much happier. The panic is still there sometimes, but it does get better as time goes on.

        My advice for follow up would be to see a melanoma oncologist just for an initial evalauation and to see if they want you to get a cat scan. I'd also be award of any new lumps in the lymph nodes and get them looked at by an oncologist right away.

        Best of luck to you! Squeeze those kids and give them lots of kisses!

        Tracy

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        Janner
        Participant

        Please keep one thing in mind when you read profiles here.  This site is the site of the newly diagnosed and the exceptions!  Newly diagnosed come here looking for advice/answers/empathy.  People who have a recurrence come here for knowledge and the interaction from others in the same boat.  But, there are really not a lot of early stage individuals just hanging around for years on end.  What purpose would it serve them?  I've been stage I for 18 years with 3 primaries.  I stick around because I have a broad knowledge of this disease.  But most move on after a period of time.  I typically tell the newly diagnosed that it takes a full year to get past the point where you think melanoma all the time.  Some get to that point quicker, other longer.  But at that one year mark, you'll be surprised at how far you've come.

        There are no real treatment standards or protocols for any stage, but early stages even less.  Periodic skin checks are basically the main thing.  Some places to chest x-rays, most don't.  Most recurrences are not caught with a scan, but by the person themselves.  For you, the groin nodes are an obvious place to monitor.  I wouldn't spend too much time worrying about their size at the moment…. they've been through some major trauma.  Certainly, anything you feel uncomfortable about should be discussed with your doctor.  Pay attention to yourself, to things that don't feel right.  Be vigilant, but not paranoid.  Fine line of distinction when newly diagnosed, but it does get easier with time.

        Best wishes,

        Janner

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        Janner
        Participant

        Please keep one thing in mind when you read profiles here.  This site is the site of the newly diagnosed and the exceptions!  Newly diagnosed come here looking for advice/answers/empathy.  People who have a recurrence come here for knowledge and the interaction from others in the same boat.  But, there are really not a lot of early stage individuals just hanging around for years on end.  What purpose would it serve them?  I've been stage I for 18 years with 3 primaries.  I stick around because I have a broad knowledge of this disease.  But most move on after a period of time.  I typically tell the newly diagnosed that it takes a full year to get past the point where you think melanoma all the time.  Some get to that point quicker, other longer.  But at that one year mark, you'll be surprised at how far you've come.

        There are no real treatment standards or protocols for any stage, but early stages even less.  Periodic skin checks are basically the main thing.  Some places to chest x-rays, most don't.  Most recurrences are not caught with a scan, but by the person themselves.  For you, the groin nodes are an obvious place to monitor.  I wouldn't spend too much time worrying about their size at the moment…. they've been through some major trauma.  Certainly, anything you feel uncomfortable about should be discussed with your doctor.  Pay attention to yourself, to things that don't feel right.  Be vigilant, but not paranoid.  Fine line of distinction when newly diagnosed, but it does get easier with time.

        Best wishes,

        Janner

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        Leigh
        Participant

        Hello and thank you so much for all your replies. I have looked a bit more at the breastfeeding and hope that as it lowers oestrogen in the body compared to pregnancy/HRT the mechanism is quite different. I breastfed my eldest child to 14months and the breastfeeding is the main thing I can do for my wee baby at the moment whilst I am laid up waiting for the skingraft to heal.  Not sure what we are going to do when my husband needs to return to work and my two year old has been having major problems with me being in hospital and laid up after two operations twice in less than three months let alone having a new sibling. 

        I really appreciate your advice to live life etc.  I am finding it hard at the moment, I had a great period of relief with the negative SNB but am now realising this hasn't just disappeared completely necessarily, especially after reading your profiles. I think I need to stop reading all of this but have a real need to know that I am covering all bases.  After having 3 Doctors (and multiple obstetricians) look at my "mole" and dismissing it, I am going to triple check everything.  I know the odds are with me and am very thankful for that. 

        Do any of you know/have an opinion on whether I should be requesting other tests.  The possibility it could spread by the blood (6% I have seen) frightens me and I wonder if I should be doing baseline CT/PET/CXR. I haven't had PCR done. I know guidelines do not suggest this but that is for the population and based on stats rather than on an individual. This all may sound over the top I know and I know my surgeon will probably say just to get on with life and the chances are low….I'm very cautious though and do not want to leave anything to chance.

        My left groin feels swollen and a little bit tender 2 weeks postop (fine until now) so of course I am wondering about this and what to do.  The nodes were swollen at the time of the operation and thought to be related to infection, now I think they are swollen again but without infection.  I know it seems likely that this is operation related but still makes me panic.

        Sorry this is a long post and difficult to concentrate with my little girl chatting etc.  Once again thanks for all your replies.  I have just read over the post and these seem like such minor worries in comparison to other posts I have read here but I really want to learn from your experiences.  Thank you so much.

         

           

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      KellieSue
      Participant

      It's fantastic that you are breastfeeding!

      There is nothing linking breastfeeding and a reoccurance of melanoma. DR's don't even agree that there is anything linking hormones and melanoma(thought in my particular case I feel it didn't help). There was a woman on here that was diagnosed with Stage IV and continued to have at least one more child after that and lived quite a few more years(upwards of 15 if I remember correctly)

      Keep on doing what you are doing and try not to worry! I know it's very hard.

       

      Kellie, Stage IV

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      KellieSue
      Participant

      It's fantastic that you are breastfeeding!

      There is nothing linking breastfeeding and a reoccurance of melanoma. DR's don't even agree that there is anything linking hormones and melanoma(thought in my particular case I feel it didn't help). There was a woman on here that was diagnosed with Stage IV and continued to have at least one more child after that and lived quite a few more years(upwards of 15 if I remember correctly)

      Keep on doing what you are doing and try not to worry! I know it's very hard.

       

      Kellie, Stage IV

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      ErikaHouston2
      Participant

      I was breastfeeding a 5 month old at my original diagnosis. Kept breastfeeding a few months more. I went on to have another baby and also breastfed him. So glad that you caught this early and it's isolated. It's been over 2 years since my original (stage I) was found.

      Enjoy your children and keep breastfeeding!

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      ErikaHouston2
      Participant

      I was breastfeeding a 5 month old at my original diagnosis. Kept breastfeeding a few months more. I went on to have another baby and also breastfed him. So glad that you caught this early and it's isolated. It's been over 2 years since my original (stage I) was found.

      Enjoy your children and keep breastfeeding!

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