A new study suggests older women with breast cancer, who are otherwise in good health, may be dismissed as candidates for treatment with chemotherapy. Studies in the past have shown that secondary treatment chemotherapy in women with early stage breast cancer significantly improves survival for women in their 50s and 60s, but there is little data among women ages 70 and older. Thus researchers suggest that chemotherapy may be significantly underused or dosages may be too low for the particular age group .
Researchers analyzed data from clinical trials of treatments for breast cancer patients from over a 14-year period. The trials compared more aggressive and less aggressive chemotherapy regimens. However no association was found between age and disease-free survival. Both older and younger women had similar reductions in breast cancer mortality and recurrence from regimens with aggressive chemotherapy. However, only 8 percent of patients studied were ages 65 or older, and about half of new breast cancer cases occur in the age group.
Thus researchers conclude saying that based on their data clinicians should be encouraged to offer healthy older patients participation in newer trials.