Is it common to have chemo prior to surgery?

My mother has been diagnosed with OC, not sure what stage or grade yet. She has fluid buildup in her abdomen which has shown to contain malignant cells and her CA-125 count high. I have been told by the oncologist that the CT scan shows that its spread to her lymph nodes and these would be difficult to remove surgically (too big an op?)

The thinking being the chemo will make the surgery easier and more successful.

Tomorrow she will be having a laparoscopy to remove a sample of tumour from ovary for histology.

My concerns are that by delaying surgery it my spread even further. Its been 4 wks since she had the fluid buildup.

I am worried sick as i have read that late stage disease is non curable and can only be controlled. Is there anything more i can ask the Dr tomorrow which could help clarify the situation.

Thanks

mau123

8 Replies

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  • Hi there

    I think it is common to have surgery after 3 chemos. I did because the chemo was needed to shrink the tumours to a level at which they could operate. They couldn't have done so at the beginning.

    There was recently a blog or question on this site which asked ladies to detail their treatments if you look back and I think lots of people had similar experiences.

    In my experience, I did feel much better as soon as I started chemo as it started affecting the cancer.

    If you look elsewhere on the main site, it describes the characteristics of each stage and may help you understand where your Mum may be, but I think the strength of this community is that you can see from blogs and questions that even women with Stage 3 and 4 disease can and do do very well. It's a horrible shock to have this diagnosis, and I was terrified that my Stage 3 disease would change to Stage 4 while they were deciding what to do about it, so I understand where you are coming from.

    I do hope they move quickly for your Mum and get some treatment started, but I wouldn't worry if that is chemo rather than surgery first. The nurses said to me at one point that the worst outcome would be to start to operate and have to just close up because there would be nothing they could do at that point.

    The other thing this site shows is the power of positive thinking and the value of supportive families, so you will be a huge help.

    Warmest wishes

    Sue

    x

  • Nothing to add to the above reply.

    But I had exactly the same worries, my first question here was how long before treatment starts.

    For me chemo had an almost immediate and dramatic effect on the swelling and consequently reduction in pain.

    Also the chemo was able to move me from what was considered an inoperable condition to a position where I was able to have the tumours removed last month.

    I am now having the chemo to hopefully remove the last bits.

    Wishing you the best.

  • I was in a similar situation to your Mum when I was diagnosed with a belly full of fluid (ascities). I was initially told to have 3 cycles of chemo before an op but ended up have 6 cycles. By which time the disease had shrunk so that the operation was much more straight forward - no bowel resection which is what the surgeon expected he would have to do.

    4 and a half years down the line and although I am still having treatment I am still here.

    I had the ascities drained and got my chemo started at the same time. This might be a way for your Mum to avoid any more delay before the chemo starts.

    All the very best.

    Sarah

  • Thank you for your reply. Mum had the laparoscopy today and i was told that they would start the chemo next week if possible. Her belly is still very large but they did no say anything about draining it. She will be having 3 courses of chemo which will last 10 wks, i think they are using carboplatin /taxol. After that she will have surgery : total hysterectomy and removal of any left over lymph nodes etc. She is 73 years old and in good health, i am worried about the chemo and how her body will react to it, whether she will be able to stand the course.

    Mau123

  • I was told, by the gynae/oncology specialist, at our local support group that chemo first then surgery, is the norm today. I was treated nearly 10 years ago now but the thinking has moved on. Let's hope the chemo has a good effect and your Mum can have the op with more chance of clearing it all up.

    All the best to you and your family

    Love Wendy xx

  • Thank u for your help

  • Hiya, I had carbo/taxol 3 cycles before my op, it didnt do anything to shrink the tumours (low grade cancer) but they did my op anyway an it was successful (better than they had hoped). The worst part is to have the diagnosis and not be treated, that gap is horrendous. Ive had my op now waiting for treatment again so Im back in that loop, so I have taken matters into my own hands and changed my diet, been having reiki and healing, and using my mind to overcome this. Ive been reading lots and every time I see a consultant I dont 'believe' everything they say, as they only treat the body and the person as a whole (this is a whole other subject) I just dont want to reply on medicine alone (Im not in denial either).

    Love to your Mum xx

  • I had one chemo/taxol course before surgery. The surgeons are delighted with the success of the operation having removed all visible tumours and said that they try to put you on chemo as quick as possible after surgery. It was a difficult period between the chemo making the disease stable, if their is such a thing, and waiting for a surgery date. I waited about 8 weeks. As sunny1 says if you are not happy with what the consultant says question it. I was told that they would not operate at one stage, but now they have my recovery looks a lot more possible and even the operating team are buzzing over the success of the operation. I should know the results on 18th May. I will be watching closely what they say.

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