Is Breast Surgery Riskier if I Have Chemo First?

Question: Are there additional risks associated with breast cancer surgery if I have chemotherapy first?

Answer: We've learned over the years that for some women it makes more sense to give chemotherapy first to shrink the tumor before any surgery is performed, and that often can make the surgery easier and safer than it would've been originally.

However, chemotherapy can also affect the white blood cell count and slightly add to the risk of infection or affect the platelets and slightly add to the risk of bleeding. In those cases it's important to wait a certain number of weeks after chemotherapy before the surgery is performed so all of those problems have had a chance to correct themselves.

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