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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2012 Jul;134(2):853-7. doi: 10.1007/s10549-012-2115-4. Epub 2012 Jun 19.

Long-term survival of older breast cancer patients: population-based estimates over three decades.

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Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, MD, USA.


Significant progress has been made in the treatment of breast cancer. However, treatment effect on survival in older patients, particularly the "oldest old" (85+ years), with breast cancer is not clear. Data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results databases were used to determine relative survival of older patients with breast cancer for up to 9 years following diagnosis. We compared trends in survival and stage distribution in the years 1977-1986, 1987-1996, and 1997-2006 in patients from 65 to 74, 75 to 84, and 85+ years of age. Between 1977-1986 and 1997-2006, 1 year survival increased from 94.9 to 97.9 %, 93.6 to 96.7 %, and 88.5 to 93.5 % in the 65-74, 75-84, and 85+ age groups, respectively. Survival gains increased with each year in all three age groups with the largest improvement seen at 9 years of follow-up. Although the "oldest old" had the lowest survival rates, improvement in survival was greatest in this age group with greater than 20 % increase in survival at 9 years. There was an increased diagnosis of localized breast cancer and decrease in regional disease in all age groups over the three decades. In conclusion, relative survival for older patients has increased considerably in the interval between 1977 and 2006, with the largest improvement seen in those 85 years and older. These results likely indicate that the benefit from advances in therapy and supportive care also extends to older patients with breast cancer, including the 'oldest old', but the impact of early diagnosis on survival requires further clarification.

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