alexa The natural history of breast carcinoma in the elderly: implications for screening and treatment.


Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Research

Author(s): Singh R, Hellman S, Heimann R

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Abstract BACKGROUND: The authors evaluated the two indicators of metastatic proclivity (namely, virulence [V; the rate of appearance of distant metastases] and metastagenicity [M; the ultimate likelihood of developing distant metastases]) of breast carcinoma in elderly women. The authors then compared these characteristics with the corresponding characteristics in a cohort of younger women to determine whether breast carcinoma was more indolent in women age > 70 years, as is commonly believed in the medical community. METHODS: The authors examined 2136 women who underwent mastectomy without adjuvant systemic therapy at The University of Chicago Hospitals (Chicago, IL) between 1927 and 1987. The median follow-up period was 12.3 years. Distant disease-free survival (DDFS) was determined for women who did not receive systemic therapy. V and M were obtained from log-linear plots of DDFS. RESULTS: No significant difference in tumor size at presentation was observed among women age < 40 years, women ages 40-70 years, and women age > 70 years (P = 0.86), whereas significantly fewer women age > 70 years presented with positive lymph nodes compared with younger women (P = 0.05). In women with negative lymph node status, there was a higher DDFS rate among patients ages 40-70 years (81\% at 10 years) compared with patients age > 70 years (65\% at 10 years; P = 0.018). There was no significant age-related difference among women with lymph node-positive disease (P = 0.2). For example, the 10-year DDFS rate for women ages 40-70 years was 33\%, compared with 38\% for women age > 70 years. Among those with lymph node-negative disease, V was 3\% per year for women ages 40-70 years as well as women age > 70 years. Among women with lymph node-negative disease, M was 0.20 for patients ages 40-70 years and 0.35 for patients age > 70 years. In women with positive lymph node status, both V (11\% per year vs. 10\% per year) and M (0.70 vs. 0.65) were similar in both age groups. CONCLUSIONS: Fewer women age > 70 years had lymph node involvement at presentation. However, when this finding was taken into account, the authors found no evidence that breast carcinoma was more indolent in women age > 70 years. These results support the use of similar diagnostic and therapeutic efforts for elderly women and younger women, with modification for elderly women based only on comorbidity. Copyright 2004 American Cancer Society. This article was published in Cancer and referenced in Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Research

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