J Breast Cancer.  2015 Sep;18(3):207-217. 10.4048/jbc.2015.18.3.207.

Early-Stage Breast Cancer in the Elderly: Confronting an Old Clinical Problem

  • 1Division of Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of Patras Medical School, Patras, Greece. kalofonos@upatras.gr


Breast cancer generally develops in older women and its incidence is continuing to increase with increasing age of the population. The pathology and biology of breast cancer seem to be different in the elderly, often resulting in the undertreatment of elderly patients and thus in higher rates of recurrence and mortal-ity. The aim of this review is to describe the differences in the biology and treatment of early breast cancer in the elderly as well as the use of geriatric assessment methods that aid decision-making. Provided there are no contraindications, the cornerstone of treatment should be surgery, as the safety and efficacy of surgical resection in elderly women have been well documented. Because most breast cancers in the elderly are hormone responsive, hormonal therapy remains the mainstay of systemic treatment in the adjuvant setting. The role of chemotherapy is limited to patients who test negative for hormone receptors and demonstrate an aggressive tumor profile. Although the prognosis of breast cancer patients has generally improved during the last few decades, there is still a demand for evidence-based optimization of therapeutic interventions in older patients.


Aged; Breast; Disease management; Neoplasms; Therapeutics
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