Undertreated breast cancer in the elderly

Manmeet Kaur Malik, Paul Ian Tartter, Rachel Belfer

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57 Scopus citations


The effect of undertreatment with adjuvant hormonal therapy, chemotherapy, or radiation was studied in elderly women with breast cancer. A prospectively maintained database was used to identify women undergoing potentially curative surgery between 1978 and 2012. The presentation, pathologic findings, treatment, and outcomes of 382 women over 70 were compared to the findings in 2065 younger patients. Subsequently, conventionally treated and undertreated elderly patients were identified and their characteristics and outcomes were compared. Both young and old patients presented most frequently with mammographic findings, but older patients presented more frequently with mammographic masses while younger patients presented more frequently with mammographic calcifications. Cancers of older patients were significantly more favorable than cancers in younger patients: smaller, with more infiltrating lobular, fewer ductal carcinoma in situ, and more frequently estrogen receptor positive and fewer were poorly differentiated. Elderly patients had less axillary sampling, fewer mastectomies, less adjuvant radiation therapy, and more hormonal therapy. Fifty-one percent of the 382 elderly patients were undertreated by conventional criteria. Undertreated patients were more frequently in situ, better differentiated, smaller, and more often estrogen receptor positive. Forty-four percent of the undertreated patients died during followup without disease recurrence. Despite undertreatment, local and distant disease-free survival was comparable to patients who were not undertreated.

Original languageEnglish
Article number893104
JournalJournal of Cancer Epidemiology
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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