Skin Cancer Home > Yervoy and Breastfeeding

The manufacturer of Yervoy (ipilimumab) recommends that breastfeeding women not use this drug, as it is unknown whether the medicine passes through human breast milk or if it would harm a nursing infant. Because of the potentially serious risks to a nursing infant, it is probably best for women to not use this drug while breastfeeding without first talking to their doctor.

Can Breastfeeding Women Receive Yervoy?

Yervoy™ (ipilimumab) is a prescription "biologic" product used in people who have a serious type of skin cancer known as melanoma. It is given via an injection into the vein, also called an intravenous (IV) injection. At this time, it is unknown if this medicine passes through breast milk. The manufacturer recommends that women not receive Yervoy while breastfeeding.

More Information on Yervoy and Breastfeeding

At this time, no studies have been done to see if Yervoy passes through breast milk. Yervoy is a type of human antibody (a type of protein made by the immune system) known as Immunoglobulin G (IgG). Natural IgG normally passes through breast milk, but usually only in small amounts. Also, the absorption of IgG from the digestive tract is usually low, which is why the drug cannot be taken by mouth.
However, Yervoy is associated with potentially serious side effects, including life-threatening inflammation of the intestines, nerves, eyes, hormone glands, and other parts of the body. Until more information is known about Yervoy and breastfeeding, including the possible effects on nursing infants, all risks cannot be ruled out. Therefore, it may be safest to avoid breastfeeding while receiving this medication.

Talking With Your Healthcare Provider

You should discuss breastfeeding and Yervoy use with your healthcare provider. Each woman's situation is different, and you and your healthcare provider understand your situation best. After considering what you want and expect, as well as your current health situation, the two of you can make a shared decision that is right for you.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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