Chemo before surgery

Hi everyone, I am due to start my chemo on 3rs July. I am have FEC-T (6 sessions) have been getting some good tips off the forum to try and help with the side effects. I have noticed that most people seem to have had their chemo after surgery but I am having mine before! Has anyone else had it this way round? Xx

Yes  I am having my chemo before surgery 3 FEC and then 3 T had my first chemo 2 weeks ago and have not been to bad due my 2 nd lot on the 7th July. My oncologist said it was shrink the tumour and kill the cancer in my lymph nodes first 

Thanks for the reply, sounds same as my situation, I have 2 large lumps in one breast and also spread to my lymph nodes! Have been told that they r hoping it will reduce enough to avoid a mastectomy and like u say kill off the cancer before surgery! Will then be having radiotherapy afterwards. Have got an app with my Dr tomorrow then booked in for my first chemo treatment on the 3rd, trying to prepare the best I can but obviously still very anxious for the first one to be done to get a feel for what it’s going to be like for the next few months xx

I have my last Taxol this Wednesday ( 4 FEC and 12 Taxol).  Hurrah…it’s been a long journey. My surgeon wanted to shrink the breast and axillary tumours before surgery. Healthy cells surrounding the tumours need to be removed too in order to get clear margins and make sure all parts of the tumour have been taken out.  The smaller the tumour, the less of your own flesh has to be removed. My axillary tumour now has pretty much disappeared and my breast tumour is tiny.  I may get away with a lumpectomy rather than mastectomy now.  Chemo has worked really well for me prior to surgery.


A few tips. Try and persevere with the cold cap if you want to prevent hair loss.  With me it fell out with the FEC but some hair started to regrow with the taxoI, but I wore the cap with both.  I found that the hair loss was on the part of my head that the cap was not in close contact with.  I still have most of my hair and everyone says how well I look!!!   Benefit do a ‘Brow Kit’ which allows you create your own brows if your own fall out.  The Taxol made my legs very achy and painful so you will probably not be as mobile as you were and get easily tired.  I put on weight from over eating and lack of excercise… so be warned.  The FEC will probably make you sick so dont skimp on the antisickness tablets before and after.  I found that the horrible nausea and metallic taste in my mouth disappeared when the FEC was over.


Best of luck and I hope it all goes well 

Hi office_angel, I will def be trying to get out for some walks etc, my 2 yr old loves the park and luckily we have one just a 5 min walk away so that will prob be good for short trips out. Am seeing my Dr this afternoon so will ask about the gym (do think I may be being a bit ambitious with that tho)! Am I also doing 3FEC 3T, my friends r doing race for life pretty muddy at clumber park in a couple of months so am hoping that will be a nice afternoon out with the kids too to go and support then. Like u say tho will just take it one step at a time xx

Hi Cas164, I had my first of 3 FEC on thurs and so far have just had a little nausea on thurs night, still early days tho. I too am using the cold cap and took a couple of paracetamol about an hour before, I didn’t find it too unbearable especially after the first 10-15 mins so like u am gonna keep trying it as long as poss.

I haven’t had much discussion about surgery yet, only been told that if surgery had been done first there would be no choice but a mastectomy.

I am still awaiting some test results from an MRI on my arm which was requested following my bone scan so that is playing on my mind a lot at the minute xx

Hi., yeah I had a CT scan too, am grateful that came back ok. The hospital have been so fantastic with me, it’s only been 4 weeks and a couple of days for finding the lump at home to starting my chemo and have had loads of tests completed in that time. Like u say, the waiting for results is really tough xx

Hi ladies, i haven’t really thought much about the surgery yet, I will see what options they give me at the time I think. Am only 4 days into 1st FEC but so far not really had many side effects, tiny bit of nausea and just starting to feel a bit tired. I used the cold cap, as yet haven’t lost any hair but guess it may be a bit early to presume that will continue, not 100% sure wen it usually starts coming out. Fingers r tightly crossed for next step, MRI results tomorrow.


Hi ladies
Just popping in from last years July thread. I got some wigs online from starting at £20. They are excellent for the price and I wear them all the time even though my hair is growing back :slight_smile:
Someone on here recommended them to me so thought I’d pass it on :slight_smile:
Good luck with your treatments xx

Hi Casx,

I had my 2nd FEC today, feeling tired and was a bit dizzy earlier but so far anti-sickness drugs seem to be doing their job. My hair has started to come out now, it seems a lot to me but I think people would prob not know to look at me as it’s quite an even spread. Am thinking of booking in to look at wigs tho so if we do go out I can have some nice hair.

Sorry to hear ur feeling a bit rubbish, hope the effects wear off quickly xx

Thanks Casx, my mum wants to come but I think she’ll be too nice about everything I try on so may take my sister too cos she will be honest if something doesn’t look right. Just need to find out where I need to go, am sure I have a leaflet about it somewhere in big pile of information I was given.

U must be feeling better if u feel up to housework. I managed to go to the gym 2 days before cycle 2, only once in 3 weeks but better than nothing I guess


Hi Cas, I have an appointment this Saturday to go and choose a wig, I still a bit of hair but it is really thinning out now and I daren’t wash it much so it’s just greasy and horrid, and coming out thick and fast.

not sure if I’ll get it all cut off or just leave it either, am tempted to think the more that is there when it starts growing back the better but I may change my mind if I can get a nice wig?


Hi ladies. I saw the title of the thread and thought I would stop by to say hello. I also had chemo first (FECT) to shrink a large 5cm+ tumour that was attached to my pectoral muscle and was able to get a lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy two weeks ago. My SNB had 3/4 affected nodes so all my nodes were removed too. I got my results today. Tumour had shrunk to 13mm and a further 3 nodes were affected but chemo had killed off the cancer so they were clear. Surgeon got clear margins so no more surgery needed. The chemo isn’t very pleasant but it does the job.

Good luck and lots of love to you all.

Hazel x

Hi ladies,

I hope everyone is as well as can be. I was meant to go to hospital to have a scan for markers but they have decided that they cannot get clear margins from the MRI I had done so it is looking like I may have to have a mastectomy even if the tumor shrinks significantly. this is mainly because there are a few smaller bits apart from the main tumor which started at 10cm so it may be that the amount of tissue they wud have to remove even for a lumpectomy wud be a big, haven’t had any final decisions yet tho. At last checkup, which was just before my 2nd FEC the tumor appeared to have shrunk slightly and Dr couldn’t feel anything under my armpit anymore so am hopeful that the chemo is doing it’s job. Think the plan is to repeat he MRI Scan at the end of chemo and then make a final decision RE surgery

Had a minor disaster with my hair yesterday wen I attempted to wash it, ended up with one massive matted dreadlock at the back :frowning: my hubby managed to ‘save’ some but eventually the ‘dreadlock’ just came apart from the rest so hairdresser has just cut what’s left really short today. Am off wig shopping tomorrow so hopefully will find a nice one, have got some headscarves etc at the ready tho, I now seem to have gained a love of neck and head scarfs and appear to have started collecting them.

Hope everyone continues to stay positive and get good results from treatment, thinking of u all


Hi ladies

I thought I’d just share a bit with you from “the other side” as it were - and also wish you all huge luck with all the treatment. 

I had chemo before surgery, first chemo was in mid-March.  I’m just on my second day at home after my DIEP flap operation which is a mastectomy and immediate reconstruction. I’m really sore but glad to be the other side of phase two. 

I had two rounds of FEC then as my very large tumour wasn’t shrinking I switched early to Tax on which I had really good shrinkage.  I’m really pleased because my surgery has preserved quite a bit of my former breast skin which I didn’t realise would happen. 

My reason for posting too is to make sure at the 3rd chemo session that you get your team cracking onto booking you in for your surgery. My hospital plastics team did not do the admin and in the end I had to have a seventh round of chemo to keep me safe until they could fit me in. It was a real blow and so don’t be passive but do stay on top of the next phase as it were. 

Wishing you all the very best - LM x