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Clin Breast Cancer. 2002 Jan;2(4):294-8.

Young age as an adverse prognostic factor in premenopausal women with operable breast cancer.

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Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center, Madison, USA.


Data regarding young age as an independent prognostic factor have been conflicting. We investigated this variable in 696 premenopausal Vietnamese and Chinese women with operable breast cancer who participated in a clinical trial of adjuvant surgical oophorectomy and tamoxifen. Tumor size and axillary lymph node status did not vary with age. Women < 35 years had a greater fraction of histologic grade III tumors (P = 0.06), and in the two thirds of patients with available data, in women < 35 years, there was a lower percentage of estrogen- and progesterone receptor-positive tumors and a higher percentage of HER2/neu-positive tumors (P > 0.14 for each group). In univariate analyses, compared to women > or = 45 years, women < 35 years and 35-39 years were at greater risk for death (P = 0.002 and P = 0.023, respectively), and compared to women > or = 40, women < 40 were at greater risk of death (P = 0.002). Multivariate analyses supported a conclusion that younger age was an independent adverse prognostic factor for survival (P = 0.005, age as a continuous variable). Kaplan-Meier analyses in all patients and in oophorectomy and tamoxifen-treated patients, but not in observation-only patients, showed statistically significant poorer disease-free and overall survival in women < 40 years compared to those > or = 40 years. Thus, despite efficacy of the combined adjuvant hormonal therapy, younger age was a risk factor for poorer survival.

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