Elderly with breast cancer may be undertreated
Women in their 80s with breast cancer tend to receive less intensive treatment compared with their younger counterparts, Israeli researchers report.
“According to our data, most women diagnosed with breast cancer at or after the age of 80, lived more than 6 years after diagnosis,” senior author Dr. Haim Gutman told Reuters Health. “A majority received less than the standard local treatment.”
Less than standard treatment was associated with somewhat increased risk of recurrence, although this “did not translate into statistically significant survival disadvantage,” he added.
Gutman, of the Rabin Medical Center, Petah Tiqwa, and his colleagues evaluated 135 women who had been diagnosed with localized breast cancer at the age of 80 years or older.
Forty-four percent of the women received standard treatment, consisting of modified radical mastectomy or lumpectomy and lymph node removal, followed by radiation therapy. The remainder received less than standard local treatment, the team reports in the medical journal Cancer.
At an average of 70 months after diagnosis, 13 percent of patients had disease recurrence and 25 percent had died.
“I would argue,” Gutman concluded, “that elderly women live long enough to suffer ... recurrences, and that survival disadvantage may become apparent if a larger number of patients is analyzed. Thus, less-than-standard treatment should be offered only after careful consideration of these facts.”
SOURCE: Cancer, April 15, 2006.
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