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Wednesday, July 07, 2010 suzan5, Community Member, asks

Q: How long after I finish chemotherapy should I schedule my surgery?

I have inflammatory breast cancer.  My treatment started with chemotherapy and will end in early August. The next plan is for the mastectomy.  How long should I rest and prepare for the surgery? My last 4 courses of chemo (taxotere) have been really tough with illnesses, pain, fatigue, and infections, and I would like to wait abit for surgery.  I know we are all different, but was wondering generally how long is the gap between chemo & surgery.?? 

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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
7/ 7/10 7:07pm

Usually, surgeons want to wait for the mastectomy until blood counts are back up to reduce the chance for infection.  That's typically about three weeks.  When I was treated for inflammatory breast cancer 12 years ago, the surgery usually was in the middle of chemo (typically four AC, then surgery, then four Taxol).  I had my surgery three weeks after chemo and then the next chemo three weeks after the surgery.  Radiation started three weeks after the last chemo.  These days, many doctors like to do all the chemo before surgery.  But the same principles apply.  As soon as you are healed from one treatment, doctors like you to start on the next.  If you are especially run down, your doctor may want you to wait a little longer.  Your oncologist and surgeon should consult about the best spacing.  I remember how tired I was on chemo.  Just keep in mind that by keeping the process moving along quickly, there is less chance for any cancer cells to rebound, and you will be done that much sooner.

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By suzan5, Community Member— Last Modified: 12/26/10, First Published: 07/07/10