Chemotherapy: Overview

Chemotherapy can be an important component of your care. 

Breast cancer care is multi-disciplinary and involves surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, and other providers.  Plastic Surgery Northwest surgeons regularly attend regional “tumor board” meetings, to actively participate in patient-specific discussions about the role of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy for breast cancer management.  At that meeting, the appropriate therapy or therapies will be determined, as well as the therapy’s timeline and order.

When Do I Undergo Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy may occur prior to surgery (“neoadjuvant chemotherapy”) or after surgery.  Your chemotherapy will be prescribed and monitored by a medical oncologist, a physician who specializes in medical treatment of cancer.  Chemotherapy can lower your immune system response and ability to heal—both important considerations for reconstructive surgery. 

How Soon After Chemotherapy Can I Undergo Breast Reconstruction?

We prioritize allowing your immune system to recover prior to breast reconstruction.  We typically allow at least 4-6 weeks to pass between your last chemotherapy and any surgical procedure. 

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