Op or chemo first ?

I was diagnosed on 15th Nov and was told last tuesday that my glads are also effected. I’m going for CT & bone scan on 28th. If they come back clear the surgeon has told me I can chose which way around I want to do things…mastectomy with recon first or chemo.
Does anyone know how long I will need to recover from the chemo, if I chose that first, before I’m fit enough for surgery or would it be better to get the surgery done first ? I’m due to see a nurse on 30th to discuss the different types of surgery on offer so I will have a chat to her but I thought I’d ask on here first to get personal opinions. I’m hoping that the decision isn’t taken out of my hands.


Depends on different factors. Size, stage. Grade is usually determined once the tumor is removed. (Mine was)
I’m sure recon wouldn’t be done if rads is needed. Chemo can be used to reduce a tumour in size (didn’t work for me)
Axillary lymph nodes are removed if affected. Supraclavicular nodes can remain in place (mine did) and can be treated with chemo and rads. Some surgeons prefer to remove those if affected.
If chemo is done first, surgery generally follows three weeks later.

There was a thread about this before - if you have a search you’ll be able to find the discussions.

I had my chemo first with surgery a month after finishing. My onc and surgeon preferred it this way as they could monitor the effectiveness of my chemo. Luckily my tumour shrank - but there have been ladies on here whose tumours didn’t shrink and so they were changed to a different chemo. If your tumour’s gone then there’s no way of monitoring your response to chemo, it also gave me time to research different recon options which I was grateful for. I also chose a different surgeon. Sometimes chemo is so successful that.a lumpectomy rather than a mastectomy can be done.

Also, I had hardly any side effects with my chemo - maybe because I was physically stronger as I hadn’t had major surgery? I don’t know…

Thanks for your replies ladies xx

Hi DebbieB

As well as the support you have received from the other users you might find it helpful to talk things through with one of the trained members of staff on the BCC helpline. Here you can share your concerns and ask any questions you may have, which might help you with any decisions you may have to make. The number to call is free phone 0808 800 6000 and the lines are open Monday to Friday 9 to 5pm and Saturday 9 to 2pm.

Best wishes Sam, BCC Facilitator