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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2008 Apr 1;70(5):1453-9. Epub 2007 Nov 5.

The impact of comorbidities on outcomes for elderly women treated with breast-conservation treatment for early-stage breast cancer.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA.



Breast cancer incidence increases with age and is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in elderly women, but is not well studied in this population. Comorbidities often impact on the management of breast cancer in elderly women.


From 1979 to 2002, a total of 238 women aged 70 years and older with Stage I or II invasive carcinoma of the breast underwent breast-conservation therapy. Outcomes were compared by age groups and comorbidities. Median age at presentation was 74 years (range, 70-89 years). Age distribution was 122 women (51%) aged 70-74 years, 71 women (30%) aged 75-79 years, and 45 women (19%) aged 80 years or older. Median follow-up was 6.2 years.


On outcomes analysis by age groups, 10-year cause-specific survival rates for women aged 70-74, 75-79, and 80 years or older were 74%, 81%, and 82%, respectively (p = 0.87). Intercurrent deaths at 10 years were significantly higher in older patients: 20% in those aged 70-74 years, 36% in those aged 75-79 years, and 53% in those 80 years and older (p = 0.0005). Comorbidities were not significantly more common in the older age groups and did not correlate with cause-specific survival adjusted for age. Higher comorbidity scores were associated with intercurrent death.


Older age itself is not a contraindication to standard breast-conservation therapy, including irradiation. Women of any age with low to moderate comorbidity indices should be offered standard breast-conservation treatment if otherwise clinically eligible.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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