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Does your tumor start to shrink after one cycle?

missbashful Member Posts: 5

Hello Everyone!

When does your tumor start to shrink? One cycle or longer? What happens if it doesn’t shrink


  • aram
    aram Member Posts: 320

    missbashful, I am a year out of treatment. This was one of my main questions during chemo. I had 4 rounds of AC first and then 16 rounds TH. With AC, after two rounds I could feel the tumor is getting softer. By the time AC finished I definitely still could feel the tumor. Midway through TH, I wasn't able to feel it anymore.

    That all being said, not feeling it doesn't mean the cancer is all gone. Only Pathology can say that. And more importantly if one can still feel it, it doesn't mean it is cancer. It can be just the shell with dead cells.

    I know it is hard, but try not to think about it a lot. I did worry a lot and I wish I wouldn't have.

  • brinkofeternity
    brinkofeternity Member Posts: 181

    My primary tumor shrank from 3cm to ~0.8cm after 3 months on Keytruda and weekly Abraxane. I couldn't feel it after about 2 months.

    What happened was the tumor was split into 2 pieces. One side was like 0.6cm and the other side 0.1cm, with a bunch of dead cells in between. I read somewhere that anything under 1cm is hard to feel.

    If the tumor doesn’t shrink your MO may consider a different chemo or AI treatment after surgery and pathology. It really depends on what pathology reveals. I tried to take it one step at a time. Hope this helps.

  • sarahnh
    sarahnh Member Posts: 105

    Some tumors shrink after one cycle, some don't shrink at all. I think a lot of it has to do with what type of cancer you have. Hormone-negative tumors tend to shrink more than hormone-positive.

    Do you know what type of tumor you had, and also what type of chemo you are getting?

  • melbo
    melbo Member Posts: 266

    mine shrank after a couple of cycles, but as Aram pointed out, even if it shrinks to the point you can’t feel it anymore, it doesn’t necessarily mean the cancer is all gone. And conversely, even if you still feel a lump and it doesn’t seem to have shrunk at all, doesn’t mean that there are still live cancer cells.

    I know it’s so, so hard — but the only real way to know is pathology. Did you have surgery before or after chemo? If you’re doing chemo first then during surgery they will remove all the tumor bed and check pathology to see if it was all dead. If you did surgery first then there may not be any way to k is for sure unless they do another biopsy — but I don’t know how standard that is.

  • elainetherese
    elainetherese Member Posts: 1,627

    Many tumors shrink from chemo, but not everyone has a pathological complete response (PCR) meaning that there is often residual cancer left over after chemo.

    Chemo's impact on your cancer depends on a number of factors, most notably the kind of cancer you have.

    I was triple positive, Grade 3, and 95% of my cancer cells tested positive for estrogen receptors. Because my lump was close to the skin, we could watch the lump shrink, using a ruler. I did AC X 4 then Taxol (+ Herceptin + Perjeta), and I believe that most of the shrinkage occurred with the THP. After surgery, the pathology report showed that the active cancer in my breast and compromised lymph node was gone. But, there was a tiny pocket of DCIS which was removed at that time.

    These days, if there is residual cancer after chemo, you may get further/different treatment than otherwise. For example, if there is residual cancer with triple positive, you may get Kadcyla instead of Herceptin for a year.

    Good luck!