Things to Consider Before Breast Cancer Treatment Begins
Having a child after treatment ends
Some breast cancer treatments can affect fertility.
If you wish to have a child after treatment ends, talk with your health care provider (and if possible, a fertility specialist) before treatment begins.
Learn more about fertility issues.
Chemotherapy can weaken your immune system, so it’s a good idea to consider a few things before starting treatment.
If your treatment will occur during flu season (October to May), get a flu shot before treatment begins.
The flu shot protects against the 3-4 viruses most likely to be common each flu season.
To learn more, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
COVID-19 vaccine and booster shots
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommends everyone who is eligible get the COVID-19 vaccine, including additional doses (for those with weakened immune systems) and booster shots . This includes all breast cancer patients, their caregivers, their household family members and other close contacts, as well as the general public .
The NCCN supports the use of any FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine but has a strong preference for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines . These are mRNA vaccines.
If you’re due for a vaccination such as shingles, talk with your health care provider about whether or not you should get the vaccine before you begin treatment for breast cancer.
Women may want to get a gynecological exam before starting chemotherapy.
If you have a positive result on your Pap test (Pap smear), you’ll likely need a slightly invasive follow-up procedure. Because chemotherapy can weaken the immune system, it’s best to have the follow-up procedure before treatment begins.
Chemotherapy can also interfere with the results of a Pap test.
If possible, postpone routine dental visits until after chemotherapy is over. Sometimes dental work can cause an infection in your mouth. Infections can be harder to treat when your immune system is weakened by chemotherapy.
If you have dental work or a cleaning that can’t wait until after treatment ends, it’s best go to the dentist before chemotherapy begins.
In general, it’s safe to travel by plane, train or bus while undergoing chemotherapy.
However, chemotherapy weakens your immune system. If you travel while on chemotherapy, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer often to try to avoid infection. You might consider wearing a face mask.
The CDC has information on travel and COVID-19.
Breast cancer and air travel
Susan G. Komen® wants to make sure people who have breast cancer are treated with respect and dignity.
When you travel by air, these steps may be helpful:
For those who wear a breast prosthesis:
For those who wear a scarf or other head covering:
For those who wear a compression sleeve:
If you have concerns about airline security screening, visit the TSA website.