Is Chemotherapy Necessary Before and After Having a Mastectomy?

Breast Cancer
March 24, 2021
3 min read
Is Chemotherapy Necessary Before and After Having a Mastectomy?

When it comes to treating breast cancer, many people have questions about treatment options. Does a patient need chemotherapy before or after they have a mastectomy?

For most patients, the mastectomy is performed first and is followed by chemotherapy or other suitable treatments. But some patients have better success if that order is reversed and they receive chemotherapy before their surgery. It is important to discuss these options with your doctor or surgeon to find out which they recommend for optimal results. 

What Is a Mastectomy?

A mastectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the entire breast. The procedure includes a total mastectomy, where all the breast tissue is removed, but the nipple is left. This procedure is performed to help remove cancerous tissue. The type of mastectomy a patient has depends on the severity of the cancer diagnosis.

What Are My Mastectomy Breast Cancer Treatment Options?

Some surgeons believe that using chemotherapy to shrink the tumor before surgery is the most effective method. This approach is known as Neoadjuvant Therapy.

Experts suggest that neoadjuvant therapy can not only improve surgical options for breast cancer patients, but it can also allow for a better assessment of the patient’s overall response to chemotherapy. This process can provide the doctors and specialists with more information and help them decide which is the best option for follow-up treatment for the patient after the mastectomy. While the approach may not work for all patients, it is worth discussing neoadjuvant therapy with your doctor to determine if you are a good candidate.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Neoadjuvant Therapy?

Patients should meet a few requirements to be a candidate for neoadjuvant therapy. The size of the tumor, the type of breast cancer they have, and whether lymph nodes are involved are all things a doctor will consider before suggesting this form of treatment. Some forms of breast cancer are more likely to respond well to neoadjuvant therapy.

Unless a tumor is small and there is no lymph node involvement, most patients who have eitherHER2-positive breast cancer or triple-negative are good candidates for using chemotherapy either before or after their mastectomy.

With the best outcomes, this therapy can eliminate all visible tumors from the breast and produce what is known as a pathologic complete response to the treatment. That means the doctor will find no trace of the invasive tumor in the breast or the lymph nodes after the patient has received treatment.

Women who have estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, which is the most common type, may not be good candidates for neoadjuvant therapy. Instead, these patients may benefit from anti-estrogen treatment to help shrink their tumor before surgery.

Where to Find Breast Cancer Treatment Near Me

Breast cancer patients should consult with their doctors and specialists to determine the best options for treatment. Neoadjuvant therapy may work best for some patients but others may require more traditional chemotherapy after their mastectomy. No matter what type of breast cancer they have, all patients need a customized therapy to avoid undertreatment or overtreatment. Your doctor or specialist can put together the right therapy and treatment options to provide you the best possible outcome.

For lab work and consultation about breast cancer and surgery options, get in touch with the BASS Medical Group experts. We offer laboratory exams that can determine your cancer diagnosis and provide other types of medical assistance as needed. Contact us today for more details.