Chemo first

SilverliningSilverlining Member Posts: 8
Hi all,
Newly diagnosed...was it just last week?  Feels like a lifetime ago.  My surgeon has recommended chemo before surgery.  Something I wasn’t expecting.  I’d done all my research on breast cancer surgery and now feeling a bit adrift.  I’d love to hear from anyone out there who went through chemo before surgery. Can’t quite get my head around the idea that the cancer isn’t being physically removed with surgery straight away.


  • KatyJoyKatyJoy Rowville victoriaMember Posts: 155
    Hi Silverlining,
    Welcome! I had chemo before my surgery after my diagnosis of early breast cancer in October 2016. I am a nurse and I must admit, I hadn’t really heard of neoaduvant chemotherapy before, and once I knew about my cancer, I just wanted them to remove it! There are pros and cons with everything though. The aim of having chemo first is usually to try to shrink the cancer so that surgery is easier. I had scans throughout my chemo and I must admit, It was great to see my tumour shrinking and know the chemo was working. After surgery, you are assuming the chemo will mop up any stray nasty cells, but you cant actually see it. For me, I found chemo difficult, but everyone’s different. It was good that it was over and done with by the time I had surgery, then just had to recover from the surgery.  Your treatment team will choose the best plan for your own individual situation. I wish you all the best. This time is so hard, but once you have a plan and start your treatment, you will feel better. Best wishes to you,
    Kate x
  • iserbrowniserbrown Regional VictoriaMember Posts: 2,333

    Hope the above link helps - it is from the website of BCNA
  • MoosieMoosie Taree Nsw Member Posts: 28
    Hi. I was diagnosed with triple negative inflammatory bc in April. I started neoadjuvant chemo within 14 days. I had three tumours and at the conclusion of 8 rounds of chemo two tumours which were 25 mm had all but disappeared and one was reduced from 27mm to 4mm. Whilst it is scary living with the enemy for those 8 rounds the results achieved were amazing. I’m now 4 weeks post mastectomy and 3 weeks before radiation. From my results I am extremely lucky and without the neoadjuvant chemo I might not have been so lucky. I’m happy to answer any other questions you might have, if I can. Good luck with your journey. 
  • JoeyLizJoeyLiz Member Posts: 224
    I've just started chemo first, they said the aim was to shrink it (I have 3 masses totally 7cm) so would need a mastectomy if did surgery first but they are hoping for a complete response so I may only need a lumpectomy. My family can't get their head around them not chopping it out first, but I trust my Drs.
  • smokie08smokie08 AdelaideMember Posts: 73
    Hi Silverlining
    I had chemo first as triple negative about 40mm and spread to one lymph node i was the same as you just wanted it out but my oncologist and breast surgeon explained that it would be a better outcome if had chemo first.  Its hard work but it was a good outcome as Boris ( as i called it !!) had shunk to less than 1mm and nothing in the lymphs when they did the lumpectomy a few weeks ago.  I am now on to the last leg start radio therpy on 27th Nov for 6 weeks so go with what the docs say as they are the experts and know what they are doing.  Its a bit of a roller coaster ride as there are good days and bad but stay positive and take care xx
  • LMK74LMK74 BrisbaneMember Posts: 674
    Hi @Silverlining, I had chemo first as well. Ac chemo × 4 and Paclitaxil x 12. My tumor was big 6cm and I'm very small busted so the aim was to shrink it down. Unfortunately I had no response whatsoever to chemo and had a mastectomy. Pathology stated my tumor was 9cm and cancer still active so had grown 3cm in the six months of chemo. To be honest I'm glad I did it first as now if I need chemo again in the future they will have to use a different chemo. Had I had surgery first we would never have known that chemo combo was useless for me. So there are advantages to having it first. I was stage 3b grade 2 er positive. I've just finished six weeks of rads. All the best.

  • lezanne75lezanne75 melbourneMember Posts: 17
    I was diagnosed in October and was also advised to have chemo first to shrink the masses in my breast and axilla prior to surgery, both of which are grade 3 triple positive.  I've had one session of a/c and my next is due on Tuesday.  I've already found that both masses have reduced which has really given me a boost .  I'll still need surgery after 4 x A/C and 12 x Taxol but it'll be less invasive, I also had a clip inserted into the mass in my breast, prior to chemo, so that they can confirm the area it was in should it shrink down to zip.
    Hang in there and know that we're all here to support you
    Lesley xx
  • SoldierCrabSoldierCrab Bathurst NSW Member Posts: 2,315
    Hello @Silverlining ;
    since my diagnosis in 2012 it is now very common for them to do Chemo first then surgery they have found it to be more beneficial in the longer term. 
    do you have a breast care nurse? 
    https//  it might help to discuss with her or you could call the BCNA helpline to discuss it with the telephone counsellors. 

  • Mrs_HMrs_H Brisbane SouthsideMember Posts: 98
    I had chemo first. I think it was to shrink the tumours to give options for the surgery but then the surgeon changed her mind and decided a double mastectomy was my best option. In my case, my age, cancer in both breasts and her2 positive, it was deemed the best long term decision. I also had clips put in to monitor the tumours. Can’t say if it’s better or worse to be honest. Good luck. Cheers, Jen.
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