Chemotherapy can be given before or after surgery, depending on your circumstances

You will usually receive chemotherapy after surgery (known as adjuvant treatment). If you are having both chemotherapy and radiotherapy, you will usually have chemotherapy first.

If chemotherapy is your first treatment after surgery, your breast care team will aim to begin your chemotherapy within 31 days of your surgery being completed.

If chemotherapy is your first treatment after surgery, your breast care team will aim to begin your chemotherapy within 31 days of your surgery being completed.

If chemotherapy is your first treatment after surgery, your breast care team will aim to begin your chemotherapy within 31 days of your surgery being completed.

If chemotherapy is your first treatment after surgery, your breast care team will aim to begin your chemotherapy within 42 days of your surgery being completed.

Occasionally you may have chemotherapy before surgery (known as neoadjuvant treatment), for example if you have HER2 positive or triple negative breast cancer, or you have a large tumour. The aim of neoadjuvant chemotherapy is to shrink the tumour enough for you to have breast conserving surgery rather than a mastectomy.

Chemotherapy is given as a course of treatment which usually lasts several months. The course is divided into smaller units called cycles. Each cycle involves a dose of chemotherapy followed by a few weeks’ break.

Information Standard

Information last reviewed: November 2017

Next review due: November 2020

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