Breast cancer in elderly women: A different reality? Results from the NORA study

G. Mustacchi, M. E. Cazzaniga, P. Pronzato, A. De Matteis, F. Di Costanzo, I. Floriani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The incidence of breast cancer increases with age, and the disease affects many older women; however, attitudes about prevention and treatment of breast cancer vary based on the patient's age. Older women have less access to clinical trials and fewer opportunities for treatment with innovative therapies. The National Oncological Research observatory on Adjuvant therapy in breast cancer (NORA) study was a cohort study designed to obtain information about adjuvant strategies for treatment of breast cancer after surgery, patterns of recurrence, and possible correlations between cancer-related events and biological factors. Patients and methods: This report describes patient characteristics, disease status, and local and systemic adjuvant treatments in a population of breast cancer patients aged ≥65 years. The NORA study consecutively enrolled >3500 patients from 2000 through 2002 at 77 Italian hospitals; of these, 1085 were aged ≥65 years. Data on patient characteristics, cancer presentation, and treatments were analyzed to identify possible relationships between these factors and age. Results: The findings indicate that age is significantly related to later diagnosis and different patterns of treatment. Choice of adjuvant systemic treatment was primarily related to hormone receptor status and tumor stage but was strongly influenced by the patient's age; there was a proportional relationship between endocrine treatment and increasing age. Cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and 5-fluorouracil as well as anthracyclines were widely used, but the use of taxanes was limited to a very small percentage of patients. Conclusions: The findings of the NORA study may help to change attitudes that currently exclude a significant proportion of breast cancer patients from secondary prevention policies, more active treatment strategies, and clinical research trials based on age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)991-996
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Volume18
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007

Keywords

  • Adjuvant therapy
  • Breast cancer
  • Elderly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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