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J Clin Oncol. 2008 Nov 20;26(33):5386-92. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2008.17.6891. Epub 2008 Oct 27.

Role of age and health in treatment recommendations for older adults with breast cancer: the perspective of oncologists and primary care providers.

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  • 1City of Hope National Medical Center, Duarte, CA 91010, USA.



To determine the impact of age and health status on adjuvant treatment recommendations for older patients with breast cancer from the perspective of medical oncologists and primary care physicians with geriatric expertise.


One hundred fifty-one oncologists and 158 primary care physicians with geriatric expertise participated in an online survey. The survey described hypothetical patients of varying ages (70, 75, 80, and 85 years) and health status (good, average, and poor) who had node-positive, hormone receptor-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2)/neu-negative; and hormone receptor-negative, HER-2/neu-positive breast cancers. The effects of patient age and health status on the survey participants' adjuvant treatment recommendations were examined using generalized estimation equation methods.


The majority of both oncologists and primary care physicians recommended some form of adjuvant therapy for patients of all ages (70, 75, 80, and 85 years) and health status. Both oncologists and primary care providers were less likely to recommend adjuvant treatment as a patient's age increased or health status declined (P < .0001). There were no significant differences in treatment recommendations among primary care physicians and oncologists for patients with hormone receptor-negative, HER-2/neu-positive tumors (P = .54). However, primary care providers were more likely than oncologists to recommend no adjuvant treatment for patients age 75 years or older with hormone receptor-positive, HER-2/neu-negative tumors (P < .01).


Age and health status influence oncologists' and primary care providers' adjuvant treatment recommendations. Evidence-based guidelines for breast cancer treatment in older adults taking into account age and health status are needed.

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