How to Estimate Duration of Cancer Treatment

Cancer treatment is a challenging life experience and you may wonder just how long it lasts.

When a final diagnosis is made, you suddenly have a series of appointments that prevent you from following your normal schedule. Through you probably have a family and a full-time job, now your number #1 challenge is to get through cancer and return to regulal life. You may ask how much time it takes to undergo breast cancer treatment and restore yourself fully before you can go back to your normal schedule. Let us examine how long various procedures can take, so you can evaluate the overall time of breast-cancer treatment and recovery.

Informing Family and Colleagues

Working full-time, you may need to request sick leave from your job. After calculating the estimated time you will need, provide your boss with the most accurate information you can. There is always a possibility to encounter obstacles during treatment, so you might have to leave for longer than planned. Be sure to explain the situation at your working place.

A calendar will help you to track all appointments with oncologists, surgeons, therapists and nurses. Don’t overstrain yourself on days of treatment; during recovery ask family members and colleagues for help with your duties.

Lumpectomy & Mastectomy

There are several types of procedures to treat breats cancer with require different recovery periods. To procedures needed depend on your condition at the moment of taking treatment.

Lumpectomy is a surgery to remove breast tumor. After surgery the patient can return home the same day. Recovery usually last from 7 to 14 days (up to 2 weeks in case lymph nodes removal). Stay away from heavy lifting and other demanding activities during that time.

Mastectomy is a surgery of partial or complete breast removement. The patient is required to stay in the hospital for several days. Surgical drains will remain in place for about a week to help with healing process. Insections will heal in 3 to 4 weeks. Often breast reconstruction is done immediately after the breast removement, but usually it does not affect healing time.

Re-excision is an additional surgery that might be needed to remove the remaing cancer cells. Patiens can return home the same day and recovery takes 3 to 7 days.

Breast reconstruction can vary in complexity and requires different recovery periods. Some methods include several surgeries to form new breasts. Reconstruction can be postponed if you will have to undergo sessions of radiation treatment.


The chemotheraphy treatment usually takes from 3 to 6 months depending on how many standart cycles of chemo you will have. Each procedure takes 3 to 4 hours, but you also will have lab appointments that take 15 minutes and more.

There is no reliable way to predict how the body will respond to chemotherapy. Side effects may not occur at all, or several symptoms may appear at once. With mild or no side effects it is possible to return to normal life in between treatments. Otherwise, plan enough time to recover. After chemotherapy is over, you may need up to 3 months for recovery.

Radiation Therapy

A standart course of radiation therapy will take about 6 weeks, whereas you will have a session 5 times a week. Plan some time off to recover on weekend and after treatment. There are newer types of radiation, which can be completed in a shorter period.

Estimate Treatment and Recovery Times

There are common and less common scenarios in cancer treatment, which depend solely on your diagnosis and health condition. For example, breast cancer with no metastasis requires a different treatment plan than a metastatic tumor. Treatment and recovery in case of early-stage breast cancer can last from 2 weeks to 8 months, not including such scenarios as a long-term hormonal therapy, which can last up to five years. Only your oncologist will be able to predict how much time you will need for treatment and recovery.

Remember that recovery times vary depending on your overall health. A healthy livestyle can help you to recover faster both physically and mentally. Do not underestimate the importance of emotional and mental recovery after the breast cancer treatment. If you have depression and suffer from anxiety, do not hesitate to contact a a psychologist. Cancer rehabilitation centers offer councelling and physical therapy to accelerate recovery after a long and difficult fight agains the disease.