Chemo before Surgery


I am having my 6th and last chemo on Thursday (if bloods are ok). I have had chemo before my surgery which has shrunk my 5cm lump to almost nothing. I am getting concerned because my surgery date is 5 weeks from my last chemo and I have started having all sorts of thoughts about the lump growing back in those 5 weeks. I would love to hear from any ladies that have had their chemo first and how long they waited for surgery after their last chemo. My imagination seems to have gone into overdrive again!

love Westland

Hello! I felt the same way and had just over a month between final chemo and surgery. My onc and surgeon promised me I was over-worrying and said the usual cycle for chemo is every 3 weeks but it takes longer to get out of your system but that they need to make sure that you’re fit and healthy and able to cope with the surgery. I guess you could always ask if it could be brought forward if you coped well on chemo and your bloods were always good. They can always say no!! X

Hi I had chemo before surgery like you, my last infusion was the end of July , my Mx was on the 6th September, so about 6 weeks later.
I had a scan after chemo which showed the chemo had done a great job so I never worried about the cancer growing again , I also thought the chemo stays in your system for quite a long time after treatment has finished.Try not to worry.

Thanks Sandytoes for responding. I did ask my oncologist about the chance of it growing again in those 5 weeks and he said “in an ideal world chemo should stay in our system for 3-4 months” just wished he had sounded more convincing. My bloods were ok up until my last chemo when my platelets were low and my white blood cells, so maybe I will need those 5 weeks. I feel a bit more reassurred knowing that you waited just over a month and you were fine. Not many people I know have had chemo first then surgery, so it was really nice to speak to someone that has.

Thank you.

PS Congrats on the final chemo and the shrinkage!! Good going! X

I’m due to start my 1st Chemo of 6 next week, every 3 weeks. The consultant said my mastectomy will probably be a couple of weeks after the final chemo, seems a bit quick, having a scan after the 3rd chemo session. Will leave the decision up to the experts and try not to worry, stressing is bad for our bodies! Just go with the flow and everything will be just fine.

Daysie x

I too have a 5cm lump and my oncology team advised chemo first followed by either lumpectomy or mastectomy whichever is necessary. I have had two EC chemo sessions, and my next cycle was due on Thursday. Last week I had an MRI scan to determine whether my lump was responding to EC, and yesterday I had an appointment with my Oncologist to receive the result of the MRI scan. Unfortunately the EC has not had the desired effect, so on Thursday my prescription will be changed to Taxotere. I am not looking forward to the new prescription and it’s possible side effects; my body was coping quite well with EC, but will I manage as well with Taxotere?

Westland, what chemo prescription were you on? Your lump has certainly responded very well to whatever you were treated with. Am I right to assume your operation will be a lumpectomy, not a mastectomy?

Good luck to all.

Libsue, I had AC and TAX and had no difference on AC but TAX shrunk the b*gger!! I also had less side effects with TAX than with AC…bur everyone’s different! Good luck. X

Thanks Sandytoes for your reply to my post.

I was getting quite stressed about Tax on Thurs and your comments have helped me calm down. I have taken my steroids this morning in preparation for tomorrow. If Tax shrinks the lump it will be worth any side effects I may suffer. How many Tax cycles did you have?

Many thanks for your good wishes. I hope all’s well with you. x

Hi libsue, Im sorry EC chemo didn’t work for you. I am having my last chemo tomorrow which has been 6 Taxotere, Carboplatin and Herceptin. My side effect have been copable and I hope yours will be to (if you get any)! How many taxotere chemos are you having?
I am having a lumpectomy on the 15th December but my Breast Surgeon has warned me that because the chemo has shrunk the lump to almost nothing, it can disperse bits of the lump all around the breast which could mean a mastectomy. Unfortunately he won’t know until he starts to do the lumpectomy even though ive had an MRI scan

The good thing about having chemo first is that I could feel the lump getting smaller.

I hope the taxotere works as well for you. Please let me know how you get on (only if you want to).

Thank you Daysie and Jean, its nice to know others have had or will be having there surgery after chemo and have had no problems. I feel better now and will try not to worry.

Love Westland x

Chemo didn’t do much for me either. It looked much smaller after my fec-t on the ultrasound, but it lost 1cm down to 4.5cm. Took a bit of effort to remove too as the horror was having a bit of a spread, but as far as we are concerened, it’s gone now.

Hi Libsue

I too am having chemo before surgery. My lump was 5cm but is shrinking. I have had 3 x FEC and tomorrow I start on T like you - from what I have gathered T is the stronger drug to kill the …er!
I have taken my steroids today and am a little nervous about tomorrow as not sure how I will feel on the new drug. I found FEC knocked me for six for about 7 days then I was okay. Good luck!

I am in exactly the same position! I have my last chemo tomorrow (Thursday) - taxotere - hooray. I have had 3 FEC and 3 taxotere and, according to the onc, the tumours have shrunk considerably (it started with 2 joined together of 5cm each) but I haven’t had formal confirmation via ultrasound or any other form of scan. I feel the same and am very anxious to get surgery as soon as possible before the blasted critters can re-group. However, with Christmas looming large I can’t see that I will get it before then although I would be perfectly happy to go in Christas Day if need be!

I am also anxious to know how soon I will get radiotherapy after the op.

I have made a list for the onc tomorrow but am reading this thread avidly for further info.


Hi blondebutbrainy, Congratulations on finishing chemo. Sometimes I thought I would never get there. Just an idea but I did ask if I could have my surgery before christmas, why don’t you ask if you can too. My radiotheraphy is going to start about 4 weeks after surgery, depending on how my surgery goes.

It would be nice if you could get surgery over before christmas as to me its another step out of the way and the ladder seems to be getting shorter.

Take care
Westland x


I’ll be having surgery after chemo as well. I’ve just had my second chemo, and I’m having 6 lots of TAC (Taxotere, Adriamycin and Cyclophospamide). Like you Daysie (hello!), my surgeon said the Mx would be 3 weeks after the last chemo, but I think that’ll be a bit soon - I’ve got an appointment with her after Christmas and I’ll know more then.

I think the tumour is shrinking with the treatment. Basically I thought it was a breast abcsess, which turned out to be cancer. There wasn’t much of a lump there to be felt, but by the time they’d faffed around with me for 6 weeks by the time chemo started there was a big “dent” which appeared. This is now beginning to go, so obviously something is changing which is encouraging.

Good luck to all, nice to meet some people in the same boat!!

Hi All

I was told that I need to see my surgeon before my last session of chemo so that they can arrange the mx op as soon as possible after the last session, they didn’t indicate how long after last chemo this will be. I am also on TAC like Keepthefaith. I am due to receive TAC2 on Thursday.


It’s a minimum of three weeks to get the wbc to a reasonable standard. You need as many as you can muster.

Hi all,
sorry to jump on your thread, but I am having surgery after chemo too. having my last Tax oh 25th .11… and surgery booked for 21st dec… my tumour was 4cm , I had 3 FEC and 2 taxotere(one more to go) lymph nodes involved as well… my last oncologist app… I have been told my tumour has shrunk to just under 1cm and lymph nodes swelling is not able to find …I have found Fec as effective as Tax, I have felt tumour getting smaller after Fec …
Radio after new year…

good luck with everything

I’m another one who had chemo first! I had 4 EC and 2 docetaxel. I was due to have 4 docetaxal but had bad reactions to the first 2 so they wouldn’t give me any more which was fine by me!
On examination after chemo they couldn’t find the lump so had ultrasound and mammaogram, neither of which found the lump. Then had MRI scan which found slight shadowing but immeasurable. So it was really good news from a chemo point of view but I was then advised to have mastectomy instead of lumpectomy. I finished my chemo on 22nd August and had surgery 14th October. Pathology results postop found no cancer left in the breast tissue and 1 cancer cell in the whole of my lymph nodes (it’d been in several before chemo hence axillary clearance).
Just waiting for radiotherapy now x

Hi there,
Sorry I haven’t been on. Been fighting through the side effects of my last taxotere (10th Nov). Starting to feel a bit less like the monster from the deep now thank goodness. Have an appointment with the surgeon on 24th November and hopefully will find out then if I can get surgery before Christmas. I’m sure the tumours (Grade 3 and big) have shrunk considerably but still wanting rid of any of the remains as quickly as possible. I am heartened by the posts showing that it is possible to move quickly. I have recovered very quickly from each session of chemo so far so hope that this will be possible. Good luck and best wishes to all!