How Long After Mastectomy Does Chemo Start (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Within 30 Days

Mastectomy is a medical surgery that is done to remove the whole breast in case of breast cancer.

There are different types of Mastectomy, namely, simple, radical, modified radical, nipple-sparing, and partial mastectomy. It is best recommended to start Chemotherapy within 30 days of Mastectomy. That way, there would be very fewer chances of cancer redeveloping in the body and it would increase the chances of survival for the person.

It is found that people who wait till after 60 days to start chemotherapy after surgery have more chances of cancer developing in other parts of the body than the people who start chemotherapy within 3 days of surgery.

How Long After Mastectomy Does Chemo Start?

There are five different types of Mastectomy surgeries. These are simple Mastectomy, radical, modified radical, nipple-sparing, and partial Mastectomy.

Simple Mastectomy is where the surgery focuses mainly on the breast tissue. The surgery undergoes to remove the entire breast; however, no other parts of the muscle are removed other than the breast. It is usually done to remove any possibility of breast cancer happening in women who have large areas of DCIS.

In a Radical Mastectomy, in addition to removing the entire breast, the surgeon also removes the “chest wall muscles” under the breast as well as the underarm lymph nodes. It is the most expensive kind of Mastectomy surgery and, hence, is only recommended when cancer has spread through the whole breast.

To counter the problems of Radical Mastectomy, the preferred alternative is the Modified Radical Mastectomy where the same procedure is happening, however, the surgeon does not remove any muscles from under the breast.

Nipple-Sparing Mastectomy is the type of surgery breast tissue is removed except for the nipple, which is left alone. Moreover, in Partial Mastectomy, only that part of the breast is removed which is cancerous, along with some normal tissues around it.

It is recommended to start Chemotherapy as soon as the person can, after the surgery. The recommended time is between 30 days, as then there would be less chance of cancer rebuilding itself in the body and the survival rate for the person would increase drastically because of that, as compared to people who would start the chemotherapy after 60 days of surgery.

Type Of MastectomyProcedure
SimpleRemoving the Entire Breast
RadicalRemoving the Breast, Chest wall muscles, underarm lymph nodes
Modified RadicalRemoving the Breast, underarm lymph nodes
Nipple-SparingThe Whole Breast Tissue except the nipple
PartialOnly the Cancerous part of the breast tissue

Why Should Chemo Start Within 30 Days After Mastectomy?

Usually, Chemotherapy is recommended after the Mastectomy surgery. However, the need for Chemotherapy after surgery depends upon some factors such as the patient’s age, the type of cancer they are diagnosed with, their overall health report, as well stage and nature of cancer, etc.

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Chemotherapy might not be necessary for some types of cancers such as “situ cancer.” The reason for this is that the cancer is not strong enough to spread to and harm some other part of the patient’s body, which is what Chemotherapy saves the patient from.

However, for the more aggressive form of cancers such as “triple-negative breast cancer,” chemotherapy would be recommended to save it from spreading to the other parts of the patient’s body.

Further, the location of the cancer cells would determine if chemotherapy I needed for the patient. If the cancerous cells have spread to the areas outside the breast tissue, the doctor would recommend chemotherapy to get rid of them.

The medical history of the person matters, too. For example, if the person has already undergone Chemotherapy before the surgery and has again developed cancer, it is most likely to not work again and hence would not be recommended.

Age of the patient matters as it is directly linked to what kind of cancer could develop in their body. Women who are in their Premenopausal years are more likely to develop the more aggressive type of cancers and would highly need Chemotherapy after the surgery.

The surgery is to remove the root of cancer from the body; however, Chemotherapy is to ensure that cancer does not redevelop in other parts of the body.

Conclusion

Mastectomy is a medical surgery to remove the entire breast in the cases of breast cancer. There are different types of Mastectomy surgeries depending on the type of cancer and the need of the patient. Usually, after mastectomy, chemotherapy is recommended to end any left traces of cancer in the body and increase the survival rate of the patient. Women who get to Chemotherapy within 30 days of mastectomy are more likely to have a better survival rate than women who get to chemotherapy after 60 days of surgery as by that time there is a risk of the cancerous cells spreading to other parts of the body and redevelop.

References

  1. https://www.breastcancer.org/research-news/20140220-4#:~:text=Doctors%20recommend%20starting%20treatment%20as,increases%20the%20chances%20for%20survival.
  2. https://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/surgery/mastectomy/what_is
  3. https://moffitt.org/cancers/breast-cancer/faqs/will-i-need-chemotherapy-after-a-total-mastectomy/
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