Know the Options Before Breast Cancer Surgery OPTIONS BEFORE SURGERY.

What should you know about pre-surgery treatment?

You might hear your care team talk about neoadjuvant treatment, which means treatment before surgery. Pre-surgery treatment may be an option depending on the type and stage of breast cancer.

Pre-surgery treatment may be a type of systemic therapy, meaning treatment that affects your whole body to help fight cancer. There are different types of systemic therapy that do different jobs. Your oncologist can help you understand your pre-surgery treatment options.

Pre-surgery treatment can be started soon after diagnosis, so talk to your care team right away to understand this choice.

Pre-surgery treatment can be started soon after diagnosis, so talk to your care team right away to understand this choice.

Possible benefits of pre-surgery treatment

Pre-surgery treatment gives you the possibility to shrink the tumor before surgery. It also helps treat cancer cells in your body before they spread further.

Depending on how your cancer responds to the pre-surgery treatment, your oncologist may learn how the current treatment is working to fight your type of breast cancer. Choosing pre-surgery treatment also gives you time to learn more information through genetic testing as well as to make breast reconstruction decisions before surgery.

In some cases, pre-surgery treatment will shrink the tumor so much that the pathologist can’t find any cancer left. This is called pathologic complete response, or pCR.

Possible risks of pre-surgery treatment

Not everyone's cancer responds to pre-surgery treatment. It is possible that the breast cancer will continue to grow. There’s always a chance the cancer could come back, even with pre-surgery treatment, surgery, and post-surgery treatments. Your care team will make a follow-up plan for you if needed.

Each therapy option comes with its own set of risks and benefits to consider. That’s why it’s so important to talk to your care team before making a pre-surgery treatment choice. If you plan to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about fertility before starting treatment.

In some cases, pre-surgery treatment will shrink the tumor so much that the pathologist can’t find any cancer left.
Pre-surgery Breast Cancer Treatment

Pre-surgery treatment may be an option if you:

  • Have stage 2 or 3 breast cancer, which means it may have started to grow or spread to the lymph nodes. If you have stage 4 breast cancer, pre-surgery treatment may not be an option.
  • Have been diagnosed with TNBC or HER2+ breast cancer
  • Need to shrink the tumor in your breast or lymph nodes so surgery is possible or less extensive, and/or to decrease possible side effects after surgery (for example, lymphedema)
  • Are able to have surgery for breast cancer, but want to keep more of your breast (for example, shrinking the tumor to have a lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy)
  • Are a candidate for post-surgery treatment

Who should you talk to?

If you’re considering pre-surgery treatment and want to know, “What does this option mean for me and my treatment plan?”, start by talking to the experts on your care team.

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