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Breast Cancer Awareness Group Breast Cancer Awareness Group

Debate: Chemo Before Mastectomy -or- Mastectomy First?

Posted by on Feb. 7, 2013 at 12:34 PM
  • 4 Replies

 Hi Ladies,

My mom isn't fully through the diagnostic process yet but we know she has an egg-sized malignant tumor. She's 65 and there's no prior family history of breast cancer, although lots of other cancers are in the history. 

We know she'll need a mastectomy but the surgeon we spoke to today said he'd operate after oncology treatment...most likely 3-6 months of chemo.  To me, it seemed like putting the cart before the horse.  Honestly, my first thought was that chemo first improves the surgeon's success stats, though I might be imagining nefarious motives where none exist.

So please share your thoughts/opinions/experiences with this.  Argue it out if you feel strongly one way or another.  Educate me however you see fit.

Thanks!

by on Feb. 7, 2013 at 12:34 PM
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Replies (1-4):
Nora_A
by Member on Feb. 7, 2013 at 2:56 PM

I had chemo following surgery, but my sister in law had chemo first, then surgery. I also met a woman while I was going through radiation who had been through chemo and was doing radiation in an effort to shrink the tumor before her mastectomy. I think there are probably a lot of different factors in determining the order of treatment. The size, stage, grade and location of the tumor(s) will vary from person to person. Not to mention the age of the person as well. There are a lot of considerations that go into determining treatment plans.

If your mom is not happy with the recommendation from that surgeon, she may want to seek out a second opinion.

Good luck to your mom. No matter which approach she takes, I hope she'll have a successful outcome.  

Bieg9093
by on Feb. 7, 2013 at 10:09 PM

 

Quoting Nora_A:

I had chemo following surgery, but my sister in law had chemo first, then surgery. I also met a woman while I was going through radiation who had been through chemo and was doing radiation in an effort to shrink the tumor before her mastectomy. I think there are probably a lot of different factors in determining the order of treatment. The size, stage, grade and location of the tumor(s) will vary from person to person. Not to mention the age of the person as well. There are a lot of considerations that go into determining treatment plans.

If your mom is not happy with the recommendation from that surgeon, she may want to seek out a second opinion.

Good luck to your mom. No matter which approach she takes, I hope she'll have a successful outcome.  

 Thanks so much.  We're scheduled for our second opinion next week with a doc we're both hopeful about. 

Much luck and good thoughts to you as well.

FebPenguins
by Member on Feb. 9, 2013 at 8:17 PM

My mother had a lumpectomy before she met with oncologist. Surgeon believes he got

the entire mass/tumor/lump. I have been researching and I have found many get 

chemo/radation b4 surgery. Now we wait to see the oncologist, who we suspect will suggest

chemo/rad/drugs. If they got the whole thing why more treatment?

Bieg9093
by on Feb. 9, 2013 at 8:39 PM
1 mom liked this

 

Quoting FebPenguins:

My mother had a lumpectomy before she met with oncologist. Surgeon believes he got

the entire mass/tumor/lump. I have been researching and I have found many get 

chemo/radation b4 surgery. Now we wait to see the oncologist, who we suspect will suggest

chemo/rad/drugs. If they got the whole thing why more treatment?

 I hear you.  I hope they are able to treat your mom with something nice and easy and with great results.

Years ago, I had a friend who had cancer that didn't form a lump so much as it travelled through milk ducts.  She only felt a lump when a little bit burst through the duct, but by then it was very extensive.  And even with her, they took the breast before doing the chemo.  Between googling and talking to folks, I see that chemo first is a common option, but it's just so counter-intuitive to me.

On top of it all...my mom isn't in the best health to begin with.  Previous surgeries/conditions have left her weak.  She lacks stamina to get through a regular day sometimes.  She doesn't fight illnesses easily.  I can't imagine her being able to endure any kind of chemo strong enough to do any good and then bounce back enough to be able to endure a mastectomy.  At least if they do the mastectomy first, maybe they can see fit to treat her with less aggressive medical means.

I really hope our second opinion doc will either see things the way I do -or- be able to teach me why chemo first is a viable option.

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