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J Gerontol. 1992 Nov;47 Spec No:24-31.

Comorbidity and functional status in older women with breast cancer: implications for screening, treatment, and prognosis.

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School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley.


This is a review of research on the effects of comorbidity and functional status on breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis in older women. The objective is to summarize results from recent studies and recommend directions for future research (a) to develop more precise guidelines for breast cancer screening, and (b) to identify and eliminate barriers preventing the attainment of those guidelines. Research is needed to determine more clearly how comorbidity and functioning affect screening practices and stage of disease at diagnosis. There is evidence that comorbidity explains, in part, why older women receive less invasive therapy. It is unknown, however, whether these treatment decisions improve quality or duration of survival. Although it is evident that comorbidity and disability adversely affect survival, research is needed to examine the etiology, course, and effects of specific combinations of conditions. Final recommendations include using the Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly (EPESE) and the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) programs to address a number of these questions.

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