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Surgery before chemo

ARJal Member Posts: 18

Hi lovely ladies,

Just wondering if any of you with TNBC had surgery prior to chemo? I know it’s protocol now to have surgery before chemo but I have also seen some stories were surgery was performedbefore and the ladies are doing fine. It seems a bit counter-intuitive to me. What do you guys think?


  • mountainmia
    mountainmia Member Posts: 857

    I had surgery before chemo. My tnbc tumor was 1.5cm, with a DCIS spread of about 2.6cm surrounding it. I had a lumpectomy, followed by chemo, then radiation.

    If your tumor is larger, often chemo will come first for (my understanding) 2 reasons: 1) shrink the tumor prior to surgery, because the surgical outcome is likely to be better and 2) see how responsive the tumor is to chemo.

    So I believe which comes first is often dependent on how large the invasive portion is. Someone else might chime in with more insight.

  • santabarbarian
    santabarbarian Member Posts: 2,308

    It was counter intuitive to me too-- I wanted it OUT-- but I had my surgery after chemo because my tumor was large and already in nodes, and my doctor wanted to monitor shrinkage and know if the Tx was working or not. In the end it was reassuring to be able to see that the chemo was working. I could feel the tumor & node shrink. it made chemo easier to deal with, because I knew it was working. I think it depends on the size of tumor/ your stage.

    Good luck to you! TNBC is a winnable fight!

  • ligma
    ligma Member Posts: 8

    Hi ARJal,

    I had surgery first, then chemo followed by radiation. TNBC, IDC 6mm with DCIS 5mm. Surgeon said it was the size of the tumor that dictated when surgery first was appropriate.

    Good luck to you.

  • serendipity09
    serendipity09 Member Posts: 768

    ARJal - I had chemo first to shrink the tumor. It responded really well to AC and shrank quite a bit and I wasn't able to feel it anymore. Unfortunately, it did not respond well to Taxol and Carbo and grew back to its original size and spread to the lymph nodes. TNBC is feisty, but as santabarbarian said, it's winnable.

    Best of luck!

  • ARJal
    ARJal Member Posts: 18

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I just finished chemo and while the tumor has shrunk it is still palpable. I also have lymph node involvement and I guess I won’t know until surgery how effective my chemo was. I wonder if in instances were chemo is partially effective surgery first would be better but I guess you never know until you try.

    Serendipity09 - I’m sorry to hear that your tumor grew during chemo. I hope you are doing well.

  • norcals
    norcals Member Posts: 206


    I know this is off-topic, but are your doctors going to do an MRI prior to surgery? During chemo, MO thought the tumor was not shrinking because it was palpable. The MRI prior to surgery showed that chemo (AC-T) killed most of the cancer in the tumor bed (less than 1% cancer left in tumor bed in the breast) and that what MO was feeling was scarring.

  • piperkay
    piperkay Member Posts: 130

    I also had surgery before chemo. AsLlgma said, it was my understanding that the size of the tumor was one of the primary determinating factors as to what came first. The tumor showed as 7mm pre-surgery, and was slightly larger but still under 1cm once the surgeon got in there. Of course having the surgery first means you have no idea what effect the chemo has until you do or don't have a recurrence. But at least it's out. And so far so good. Today is the third anniverary of my third (of four) chemo treatment. Yay me!!

  • kayrem
    kayrem Member Posts: 24

    I had surgery before chemo also. That was over 10 years ago. That was all they were ever going to do for me at the time. I had a fairly large tumor in my breast (2.4 cm) and one of my infected lymph nodes (again almost 2.5 cm). To be honest… I was okay with it because I just wanted it out. I could see it when I looked in the mirror and I hated it. It is true what Piperkay wrote, you really don’t know if the chemo “worked”. But I did not care…I wanted it gone. After surgery I drank a ton of green tea, took a Mangosteen juice supplement and ate a lot of Tumeric. I stopped all that about 2 weeks before I started chemo and picked it all up again about a month or two after I finished chemo. I was stage 3 TNBC and Iam still here!😊

  • serendipity09
    serendipity09 Member Posts: 768

    ARJal - thank you! <3

  • ARJal
    ARJal Member Posts: 18

    Hi NorCalS,

    Yes, I’ll be undergoing imaging prior to surgery. I’m holding on to hope that the palpable mass is scar tissue.

  • norcals
    norcals Member Posts: 206

    ARJal: I’m crossing my fingers for you and hoping for best. You have gone through a lot and I hope the rest is smooth sailing.

    Serendipity: I hope you are having less side effects from Xeloda. My thoughts are with you too