Patterns of breast cancer care in the elderly

Erna Busch, Margaret Kemeny, Amy Fremgen, Robert T. Osteen, David P. Winchester, Rosemarie E. Clive

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123 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. The elderly represent a large proportion of the women with breast cancer. However, there is a lack of information regarding breast cancer care in the elderly. METHODS. A patient care evaluation survey for breast carcinoma was conducted by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons for 1983 and 1990. Data were obtained from hospital tumor registries from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Canada. Information regarding presentation, diagnostics, staging, treatment, recurrence, and survival were analyzed. Comparisons were made between women 75 years and older and those younger than 75 years. RESULTS. Included were 17,029 women diagnosed with breast carcinoma during 1983 and 24,004 diagnosed during 1990. In 1983 and 1990, 20.4% and 23.4% of women, respectively, were 75 years or older. Fewer cancers were detected mammographically and needle localized biopsies were performed less often in the elderly. There was no difference in tumor location or histology. Stage at diagnosis appeared more advanced in the elderly. Most women regardless of age, underwent modified radical mastectomy. Of the elderly who did undergo breast conserving surgery in 1983 and 1990, 72% and 39%, respectively, did not receive radiation therapy. No difference was found in the local recurrence rates between the elderly and younger groups. In the elderly, 20% of deaths occurred from causes other than breast cancer. Overall disease specific survival was worse in the elderly but, when analyzed by stage, was significantly different for only certain stages. CONCLUSIONS. There are several differences in the detection, diagnostic methods, stage at diagnosis, treatment approaches, and outcome of breast cancer in elderly women compared with younger women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-111
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jul 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • breast
  • cancer
  • elderly
  • treatment


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